At the time Aum Shinrikyo emerged, most Japanese assumed that they lived in one of the most well-ordered of societies, a model that had much to offer the chaotic Western world. This assumption was shaken on March 20, 1995 when the deadly nerve gas sarin was released on the Tokyo subway system. Since that incident, the "Aum Affai" has had widespread repercussions and shaken the Japanese psyche in a serious way. This volume provides a window onto contemporary Japanese society by considering the various reactions and responses to this crisis precipitated by this deviant religious movement.
'This is an important book that tells us a great deal about Japanese society through its varied responses to Aum. It is essential reading for all religious studies scholars and anyone interested in understanding more about the background and consequences of a small group which performed a horrendous act that was to affect not only Japan but the entire world.' - Eileen Barker, London School of Economics and Political Science
'In looking at how the Aum affair has been treated in Japan - through assessments of the police investigations of Aum, religious, media and legal responses to it and the ways in which Aum members themselves came to view the actions of their leaders - Kisala and Mullins provide a detailed assessment of Japanese society's reaction to Aum Shinrikyo. In so doing they not only add considerably to studies of the affair (which have so far focused largely on the events relating to Aum's crimes and its attack on the Tokyo subway) but also shed valuable light on Japanese society and social processes when faced with the sort of religious-provoked crisis that Aum evoked. This book is essential reading for all who wish to understand Aum, the politics and dynamics of new religious movements, and modern Japanese society.' - Ian Reader, Lancaster University
'This book provides a window for English readers to view the social crisis in Japan precipitated by the 'AMU affair'. In addition to illuminating the various Japanese reactions to AMU Shinrikyo, the articles prompt questions about the 'brainwashing' issue, whether religion scholars should be in the business of warning the public about dangerous groups, what constitutes religion, the media's relations to new religious movement, whether illegal tactics by law enforcement agents should be condoned when used against members of criminal religious groups, the proper relationship between the state and religion, and the healthiness of an ascetic, introversionist, world-denying outlook. This is an important collection of essays.' - Catherine Wessinger, Loyola University
'...an interesting and excellent work on the subject.' - Choice
'...readers will gain important insights into how the Aum affair has become a cultural event...' - Gary L. Ebersole, Journal of Religion
'...a very interesting collection of articles...' - Rodney Stark, University of Washington, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies