War of the prophets

While we are on the subject of Soka Gakkai, let us not forget that while they may be the largest creepy somewhat religious organization in Japan, they are far from the creepiest. That honor, naturally, goes to our old friends Aum Shinrikyo. Now, Soka Gakkai and Aum Shinrikyo may be rivals in terms of how much they creep us out, but did you ever know that they actually had some more direct rivalry? More specifically, that Shoko Asahara, the Guru of Aum, actually attempted to assassinate Daisaku Ikeda.

Here are a few relevant passages from Aum & I, by former Aum conspirator Ikuo Hayashi MD.

At the same time, Asahara was in that story blatantly attacking Daisaku Ikeda, the honorary chairman of Soka Gakkai, Morihiro Hosokawa, and Ichiro Ozawa as immediate enemies, saying that they were being controlled by the shadow organization that was controlling America and selling out Japan.

For more of Asahara’s enemies list, see this earlier post.

Later in the book is a section entitled The Daisaku Ikeda Poa Incident. I will explain Poa in detail in another post, but basically it is is a Tibetan term for reincarnation that Asahara used to mean ritual assassination.

Although Dr. Hayashi would eventually be one of the perpetrators of the Sarin attack in the subway, he only learned about the assassination attempt on Ikeda after the fact. As he explains it:

On December 18th, one of the final remaining days of 1993, a situation occurred where Nakamura came into AHI carrying Tomomitsu Niimi, who was experiencing difficulty breathing.

Later, the event known as the Daisaku Ikeda Poa Incident became the trigger for me to actually learn the religious group’s shadowy operations, which I had not been aware of until that time. This incident would also become the trigger for my getting involved in the “secret work” that would lead to the execution of the sarin incident on the subway.

“What in the world is the cause of this? I can’t properly treat him if I don’t know what the cause is!” I said.


“Actually, it’s sarin. Would you mind coming with me for a minute?” Nakagawa requested.


Nakagawa opened the door and stuck his head inside the car. After saying something [to the person inside] he immediately turned toward me and motioned for me to get in the backseat. It was the first time I had ever ridden in Asahara’s car and I was nervous as I sat down in the rear. As soon as the door was closed, Asahara, who was sitting in the front left passenger’s seat, said without even turning around, “We tried to perform Poa on Daisaku Ikeda with sarin but failed.”

There are a few pages here describing the symptoms and treatment for sarin poisoning and so on. Interesting stuff, but let’s skip ahead to Ikeda.

Limiting the assumptions to my personal feelings towards Daisaku Ikeda and the judgment expressed by the guru to whom I devoted myself, Daisaku Ikeda was an object that we must fight. Since this was so, and Asahara could fully see this karma, the act of having Poa performed upon oneself was something that would be a “happy” outcome for the person.

The main thing was about karma: that since Ikeda was a mastermind secretly trying to kill Asahara, by preventing the disaster of his carrying out this evil act of assassination, which would lead him to the Avici Hell [Buddhism’s Limbo], Aum was just trying to save him.

So there you have it. Asahara was convinced that Ikeda was plotting to kill him, and so sent his agents to kill Ikeda through Sarin poisoning. This was not just as an act of self-defense, but by killing Ikeda they would prevent him from committing awful crimes and he would therefore avoid punishment in the next life. Everybody wins! Murder as altruism- don’t you love religion?.

Japan Times infiltrated by Soka Gakkai?

Weekly Friday printed an article in their July 21 issue taking a look at the controversy surrounding Soka Gakkai leader Daisaku Ikeda’s recent series of op-eds in the Japan Times, the “only independent English-language newspaper in Japan.” Let’s have a look:

FRIDAY, 2006.07.21

Indicting Reportage: Internal conflict arises at Japan Times over “Daisaku Ikeda” columns

Field reporters lodge fierce protests, claiming “promotional articles for giant religious group Soka Gakkai”

In our last article, we reported the behind-the-scenes power struggle that is ripping Soka Gakkai apart, but a “Soka scandal” has also embroiled the Japan Times, the English-language newspaper boasting the longest history in Japan (founded 1897).

It all started when the paper started running a serial column by Daisaku Ikeda (78), honorary chairman of Soka Gakkai. This column runs on the 2nd Thursday of each month, with 12 columns planned in total. But Japan Times emloyees have fiercely protested and it has reached a state where they have requested that the upper management cancel the series. A Japan Times employees explains:

“Soka Gakkai has been dubbed a cult in France, and it is united with a specific political group (New Komeito). It is absurd for us to let the leader of a religious group with these kinds of issues to write promotional articles and on top of that give him our serial space. Even from the perspective of journalistic impartiality, it isn’t to be permitted.”
Continue reading Japan Times infiltrated by Soka Gakkai?

PM Shinzo Abe a cult member?

Last week’s issue of weekly news magazine Shukan Asahi contained a feature story claiming to have strange video footage of Shinzo Abe attending a party in Nov 2002. This was around the time of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il’s admission of his country’s secret program to kidnap Japanese people. Abe, then Dep. Chief Cabinet Secretary, saw his star begin to rise as he received credit for pushing a strong protest of the program. At the party, for Ekojuku (Wisdom Light School), a “business consultancy” that uses fortunetelling and magic energies from the (now-deceased) founder’s hands to give business and career advice. The party was held to celebrate the birthday of the company’s founder, Hitoyoshi Mitsunaga.

Abe’s speech to the crowd gathered was as follows, in translation:

“Every November I attend Mr. Mitsunaga’s birthday party. We have a long relationship that goes back to the days of my father. Each and every day there are lots of hectic goings-on, but I am thankful, knowing that this is truly thanks to Mr. Mitsunaga. I would really like Mr. Mitsunaga to send his power to the diplomats in negotiations with North Korea now, and defeat North Korea. This is how I feel.”

The article goes on to detail numerous meetings between the two (who hail from the same area of Yamaguchi prefecture), the fact that Abe was a board member on some of Mitsunaga’s companies, and some dealings that the Abe family had with Mitsunaga. Sure, the man’s beliefs are his own business I suppose, but it just irks me that crucial details like the man’s philosophy (i.e. magic hand energies can sway diplomatic negotiations) don’t make it into English-language media reporting on a major world leader. Somewhat less irksome is the absence of credit given to Abe for his 2002 best dresser award.

I don’t feel like going into detail on this now, I just wanted it covered since I am working on a post about right wing religions in Japan.

Japanese fortuneteller’s picks for the next cabinet

ZAKZAK, never a letdown, has run an article that quotes political/financial fortuneteller known as the “Onmyoji of Nagatacho” (whose sessions start at 30,000 yen) Shoken Fujitani’s predictions for who should go in Abe cabinet. While I don’t understand his system (it’s based on the fact that Abe was born aligned with Mercury in the year of the Horse [1954]), I’ll note his results here so we can come back on Tuesday to see how close he was:

People who are compatible with Abe:

Foreign Minister Taro Aso

Previous Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura (Has good “overseas luck”)

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa

Lower House Member Sanae Takaichi (connection to culture i.e. Education Ministry)

Fumio Kyuma, chairman of LDP’s General Council

Lower House member Yasuhiro Shiozaki (pictured below dining with old people for Respect for the Aged Day):

Shiozaki with old people.JPG

Lower House member (one of the “female assassin” candidates from last year’s election) Satsuki Katayama

Lower House member Yuko Obuchi (daughter of former PM the late Keizo Obuchi)

People who aren’t compatible with Abe:

LDP Policy Council Chairman Hidenao Nakagawa (who made some enemies as a diehard pusher of Koizumi reforms)

METI Minister Toshihiro Nikai. Here he is giving Koizumi and companions the classic fakeout (What the hell is that? – Huh? – … See ya!):

hey look over there Nikai.jpg

Ex-PM Yoshiro Mori (but then again no one’s compatible with Mori)

Lower House member Yukari Sato (another “female assassin” candidate that was less well-received than Katayama)

Financial Services Minister Yosano Kaoru

and finally… Koizumi himself!

I have no clue how much stock people actually put in these predictions, but Japan tends to be much more superstitious than the US and they certainly hold enough value to be featured in a trashy tabloid. In politics as well as every day life inauspicious days are usually avoided for major events and traditional superstitions (such as blood type personality distinctions) are usually respected if not wholeheartedly accepted. In one famous episode (as described in Alex Kerr’s Dogs and Demons), bankers gathered in large numbers to an Osaka fortune teller’s home so they could touch her ceramic toad and hear her stock picks. Japan certainly isn’t anywhere near as bad as Burma, where the ruling junta moved the whole capital on the advice of feng sui experts, but nevertheless a man like Fujitani has been able to make a good living with his essentially baseless political predictions. His list of “accurate predictions” includes warning former PM Keizo Obuchi not to make the incompatible Hiromu Nonaka in his Chief Cabinet Secretary or else he would “risk his life” (he later died of a stroke while in office).

These assessments seem less like astrology and more of a “who’s hot and who’s not” of Japanese politics. Pretty safe choices. We’ll come back on Tuesday to see how he did.

Liquid terrorism

Andrew Sullivan says that the most interesting thing about the recently foiled terror plot is that the terrorists were planning on using “liquids” of some kind in the attack. Since the authorities are still being tight-lipped about the actual details of the attack we have no idea what exactly that liquid was, but there are a number of possibilities. Andrew’s pet theory seems to be that they were using a device that combines liquids from two different chambers to create hydrogen-cyanide gas. According to this BBC article, it was in fact liquid explosives, with electronic detonators hidden inside portable devices, which presumably would be dis and reassembled within the plane.

Whatever the exact nature of the liquid being used in this particular attack was, there is one major past terrorist attack perpetrated through the release of liquids inside a vehicle. I am of course talking about the Aum Shinrikyo Tokyo subway sarin gas attack of March 20, 1995.

Earlier this year I had a large translation project in which I translated a couple of hundred pages of Aum Shinrikyo related material, including a large portion of Aum and I by Ikuo Hayashi, a medical doctor and member of the cult, who participated in the sarin release. Below are some excerpts describing the preparation for, and actual release of the sarin inside the subway.
Continue reading Liquid terrorism

Apocalypse Soon

There’s a good article in the LA Times about some of the more extreme members of the three great monotheistic apocalypse cults of the Middle East (in chronological order, Judaism, Christianity and Islam) who take their religion so literally that they are actively trying to hasten the end of this world because, presumably, they just don’t like it very much.

some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam’s holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building’s foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah.

So far, only one of his cows has been verified by rabbis as worthy, meaning they failed to turn up even three white or black hairs on the animal’s body.

Interestingly, this phenomena is largely confined to the US and the Middle East. Yes, of course there are apocalyptic cults in other regions (Japan’s own Aum Shinrikyo being one near and dear to my heart) but they are hardly a mainstream phenomenon over there. In fact, according to the article as many as 40% of Americans believe that an apocalypse is not merely coming but imminent. Now, some people believe that some of the more obscure foreign policy moves engaged in by the US governmental leaders can be traced to this very belief in the end time-and I myself have even engaged in some joking speculation of such a nature-but of course when examined logically the argument falls apart. After all, how could anyone who believes that the world is coming to an end in a couple of decades time be so enthusiastic about being midwife to the creation of a landed hereditary aristocracy by enouraging the repeal of the inheritance tax?


Andrew Sullivan today calls for a boycott of the Tom Cruise vehicle Miss:ion: Imp:oss:i:ble: 3.

How creepy is Tom Cruise? The Washington Post asks; and readers answer. All I can say is: after the way this guy treated South Park, we owe it to ignore him and any movie with which he’s associated. The Boycott “MI:3” movement starts here. Blogospheric solidarity much appreciated.

Well Andrew, I am completely with you on this one, but the boycott does NOT start with you. I was walking around Manhattan with my camera on April 16th and snagged this photo on 9th Avenue somewhere between 45th and 50th Street.

It seems that some people have already had the idea.

As it so happens I ended up passing through Times Square a few minutes later, where there was a pair of tables full of copies of Dianetics, a pair of e-meters, and a bunch of money-crazed bad pulp scifi worshipping Scientologists trying to indoctrinate passers-by. (I normally avoid Times Square, but I wanted to stop by Midtown Comics on the way home and couldn’t remember exactly which cross-street it’s at, only that it’s near the corner of 7th and 40-something. For the record, it was 40th Street.)

All of the following photos taken on April 16th on the west side of Times Square with a Canon EOS 300D and 65mm Hartblei Super Rotator lens.
Continue reading Scientology

You know you’ve been in Aum Shinrikyo too long when…

Pure evilYou think Dave Spector is the Antichrist:

“Issue 6 [of Aum official magazine Vajrayana Sacca] ran a feature [in late 1994] entitled “Manual of Terror: The Jewish Ambition,” which cites the Jewish people and the freemasons [as forces working to destroy Japan and conquer the world]. Of great interest is the article, “WANTED! The Black Elites Who Sold Their Souls to the Devil,” which introduces and comments on 12 Japanese people and two foreigners:

“The Dark Emperor (暗黒帝王), Ichiro Ozawa [senior DPJ leader] (trying to build a Japan that is subordinated to the world unified government).

“The 6th Demon (第六天魔), Daisaku Ikeda [founder charismatic leader of Soka Gakkai] (General of the vanguard army to destroy Japan)

“The Puppet Emperor (傀儡皇帝 かいらいこうてい), Emperor Naruhito (Had the ideas of masonry beaten into him from childhood via teachers poisoned with Jewish thought. The imperial family is already hijacked by them)

“Queen of the Ruined Country (亡国后妃 ぼうこくこうひ), Masako Owada [now known as Crown Princess Masako] (She is a person who worked to help American multinational corporations and pushed Japanese companies to destruction!)

“The rest are Lord of Ruin (没落大名), Morihiro Hosokawa [former Prime Minister]; The Three-day Ruler (三日天下), Tsutomu Hata [former Prime Minister]; Ambassor of Hell (地獄大使), Hisashi Owada [noted diplomat and father of Princess Masako]; Death’s Apprentice (死の丁稚 しのでっち), Yasushi Akashi [former UN Under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations]; Killer of Refugees (難民殺し), Sadako Ogata [former UN High Commissioner of Refugees]; Father of Beasts (家畜の父), Rev. Sun Myung Moon [founder of the Unification Church]; Heart of Extreme Evil (極悪用心), Ryoichi Sasakawa [prewar gangster and accused war criminal turned boat racing magnate and Nobel Peace Prize candidate]; Electric Geisha (電波芸者), Dave Spector [White American TV personality in Japan]; Wholesaler to America (米国問屋), Yasuhiro Nakasone [notoriously powerful former Prime Minister]; and the Human Bomb (人間爆弾), Ken’ichi Ohmae [powerful businessman and political mover].”

[Translated from The Aum Shinrikyo Incidents by Shoichi Fujita, p. 64; notes in brackets by me]

Niimi files final appeal

I mentioned the other day that Niimi Tomomitsu, one of the leaders of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, had recieved a death sentence. Naturally, he has filed an appeal.

The lawyers claim hanging is too harsh a punishment for Niimi, 42, reckoning that as Aum founder Shoko Asahara’s most loyal disciple, he had no option but to follow the guru’s orders.

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld the district court-meted death penalty against Niimi, with the judge saying there were no mitigating circumstances.

He was found guilty of conspiring with Asahara and other cultists who carried out the March 20, 1995, sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people left more than 5,000 injured.

He was also convicted for his roles in the June 27, 1994, sarin attack in a residential area in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

Should his final appeal fail, I think it is safe to assume that he will, as in all things, follow the lead of the Esteemed Master Asahara Shoko-masturbate in public and hope for the best.