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Study: Tokyo gas attacks eroded Japan’s religious freedom PDF Print E-mail

One of Britain’s leading scholars in Japanese studies, Professor Ian Reader of the University of Manchester, has just released a study examining the detrimental effects on religious freedom brought about by the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo Subway.

According to the paper, the attacks, carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo group and which killed thirteen people, led to an anti-cult campaign by a ‘rampant and unrestrained media’ buoyed by right wing politicians, obsessing on ‘brainwashing’ and ‘mind control.’

Says Reader: “Since 1945, Japan’s laws on religion were designed to protect against those very aspects of state power that damaged it in the 1930s and 1940s, and to increase freedoms and enhance democracy."

“So it is worrying and ironic," according to Reader, that Japanese authorities have since the attacks "sought to exert more control over religions that appeared to deviate from Japanese norms."

"Harassment and discrimination is now not uncommon in religious contexts in ways that were not common in Japan between 1945 and 1995, reports Reader. “The fact that one religion used weapons of mass destruction and committed terrible crimes, has led to all religious groups."

“The concept of ‘mind control’ controlled by ‘evil gurus’ has helped to deflect this questioning and evade the deeper debates and examinations that otherwise would be required,"

Professor Reader contributed an introduction to the recently released study by Human Rights without Frontiers (HRWF) on the abduction and faith breaking of Unificationists in Japan.You can read the report at this link

Prof. Reader’s study can be viewed by clicking here

This paper was published by which "provides policymakers, journalists, and anyone whose work utilises concepts such as radicalisation, fundamentalism or extremism, with easy access to high-quality academic research on these controversial issues. It is sponsored by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme and takes a non-partisan approach to highlighting the best, including latest, work in this field."