Aum Shinrikyo is a Japanese doomsday cult that was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. This is the group that committed the horrific Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995, which would be remembered as the deadliest incident in Japan since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (at least until the Myojo 56 building fire happened in 2001). Asahara’s followers believe that Armageddon will arrive in the form of a nuclear attack by the United States upon Japan, and that they can send people to heaven by killing them. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but honestly it’s all a bunch of random Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and New Age tidbits that Asahara threw together, presumably while in the midst of some hellish fever dream. If you’d like to learn more about Aum Shinrikyo and their bizarre crimes against nature and humanity, I highly recommend listening to episodes 15 and 16 of the podcast Cults, hosted by Greg Polcyn and Vanessa Richardson.
For better or worse, the Japanese authorities reported this morning that Asahara and six other members of his cult have now been executed (by hanging), after 22 years of being in prison. I am against capital punishment (plus, I’m pretty sure Japan just gave Asahara the “escape” that he wanted), but hopefully this will bring some closure to the families of those who died during that ghoulish subway attack in 1995.