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Violence and New Religious Movements$
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James R. Lewis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199735631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735631.001.0001

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Religion and Violence in Japan

Religion and Violence in Japan

The Case of Aum Shinrikyo

(p.147) 7 Religion and Violence in Japan
Violence and New Religious Movements

Martin Repp

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates violent acts committed by the new religious movement Aum Shinrikyo during the 1980s and 1990s. Most studies portray Aum Shinrikyo’s development from the hindsight of the poison-gas attack, thereby suggesting that it was an internal and consequent process initiated in the very beginning and “necessarily” by its leader, Asahara Shoko, and his teachings. In contrast to such monocausal explanation attempts, the present study traces the internal (organizational and doctrinal) developments of the group in historical order and in their social context. It is the process of reciprocal interactions with contemporary society in Japan that triggered and accelerated the group’s violent potential.

Keywords:   Aum Shinrikyo, Asahara Shoko, poison-gas attack, brainwashing, cognitive distancing, Armageddon, holy war, communication, internal and external, Buddhist precepts, celibacy, religious adolescence, mass media, Russia

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