Friday January 13, 11:16 a.m.
For the last several years, it seems that everytime I've come back home there's been some big story either here or in Japan. And this time, it was in Japan. Some days ago, NHK reported that one of the three remaining Aum Shinrikyo members on the run after the sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway back in early 1995 had been caught. Well, to be more accurate, Mr. Hirata turned himself into the authorities after tiring of the fugitive life. For years, I'd seen his face on the wanted posters throughout the subway stations of the Tokyo Metro along with one other male member and one female member. Probably all of us were wondering if all of them had just copied members of the Japanese Red Army and fled to the Middle East. But it turned out that Hirata had hidden out within Japan for 17 years with the help of another former cult member.
I still remember that March day well. I'd been teaching for NOVA and it just turned out that Monday was my day off. I woke up at the relatively late hour of 10 a.m. and turned on the telly to get that first scene of a helicopter shot of a whole mass of ambulances and dozens of first responders taking care of commuters in downtown Tokyo. At first, I didn't know what was going on but I gradually gleaned about the attack. The manhunt began. And a few weeks later, the Jabba-like cult leader, Shoko Asahara was arrested in some hiding place within rural compound. It's strangely appropos how these psychopathic leaders end up falling off their delusional podia and ending up discovered cowering in some dirty alcove.
Just to update, Asahara is still alive and on death row. And noone knows...probably not even the new Justice Minister, when Asahara will finally go to the gallows.