Kids raised in Japan’s AUM cult faced tough recovery from ‘mind control’: docs

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The words are a barely legible scrawl, written in a diary by a child who had been living at a facility run by the AUM Shinrikyo cult before being placed in the temporary care of a child consultation center in April 1995. It was just the previous month that AUM had unleashed its deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and the child had been taken into protective custody after a police raid on a cult building.

The angry diary entry and other information were obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun through an information disclosure request to Yamanashi Prefecture and interviews with those involved. What it all reveals, in this time when the grave consequences for second-generation members of religious groups is a focus of public attention, is the deep impact cults have on children.

On March 20, 1995, AUM Shinrikyo followers released sarin nerve gas in a subway train headed for Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki Station, leading to the death of 14 people and injuring more than 6,000 others. In April, police simultaneously searched about 120 locations nationwide, including the AUM cult’s facilities in what is now the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture. Around 110 children found during the raids around the country were taken into protective care.

Yamanashi Prefecture’s children’s consultation center temporarily took in the largest share of any local authority: 28 boys and 25 girls, according to records disclosed by the prefecture. They ranged from toddlers to 14 years old, and many were of elementary school age. Most were pale and expressionless after being confined indoors in the belief they were under attack with poison gas outside.

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