Shoko Asahara

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Shoko Asahara (麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō?), born Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo?) on March 2, 1955, is a founder of the controversial Japanese new religious group Aum Shinrikyo. Asahara has been convicted of masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and several other crimes, and has been sentenced to death. His legal team appealed the sentence, but the appeal has been declined, and he is currently awaiting execution.


Early years

Shoko Asahara was born into a large, poor family of tatami mat makers in Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture. Afflicted at birth with infantile glaucoma, he went blind at a young age in his left eye and is only partially sighted in his right. As a child, Asahara was enrolled in a school for the blind.[citation needed]

Asahara graduated in 1977 and turned to the study of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, which are traditional careers for the blind in Japan.[1] He married in 1978.

In 1981, Asahara was convicted of practicing pharmacy without a license and fined 200,000 yen.[citation needed]

Asahara's religious quest reportedly started at this time, while he was intensely working to support his family. He dedicated his free time to the study of various religious concepts, starting with Chinese astrology and Taoism. Later, Asahara practiced Indian esoteric yoga and Buddhism.

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