Aum Shinrikyo data on sarin gas came from Russia

The apocalyptic cult Aum Shinrikyo had obtained Russian blueprints for producing nerve gas sarin by spring 1994, a former senior Aum figure told the Tokyo District Court on April 23.

Yoshihiro Inoue, 27, Aum’s former intelligence chief, said some senior followers examined the Russian manual in a hotel around April or May 1994. According to Inoue, those present included Hideo Murai, who was killed by an assailant in 1995. Inoue came to know about the Russian papers when he heard they had been stolen from a follower’s car, he said.

But Inoue was not sure if the Russian manual directly led to Aum’s production of the nerve gas used in the March 1995 Tokyo subway attack because he said he was not involved in the production work. He also testified that the cult gave 10 million yen to the then head of Russian intelligence when Aum members met with him in France.

From around 1992, the Russian official played a key role in enabling the cult to expand its operations in Russia and obtain military secrets, Inoue said. Inoue also said that Aum founder Shoko Asahara hated the Emperor system so much that the cult attempted to kill the Emperor with sarin gas in the fall of 1993 at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo.

Inoue said he was told about the plan later by Yoshinobu Aoyama, a former Aum lawyer, giving no reason as to why it was aborted. But the Imperial Household Agency said the Emperor and Empress visited the Tokyo Dome, not Jingu Stadium, in November that year.