Okazaki prays for souls of his victims

His appeals exhausted and his execution now certain, former Aum Shinrikyo cultist Kazuaki Okazaki says he wants to atone for his crimes “in whatever way I can” in the time that is left to him.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected Okazaki’s final appeal, leaving only the sentence of death by hanging to be carried out.

Okazaki, 44, was convicted in the slayings of an anti-Aum lawyer and his family in 1989.

The repentant ex-cultist mailed a letter to an Asahi Shimbun reporter describing his emotions as he awaited the final decision.

Excerpts from the letter, dated April 4, follow:

Seven years ago I received a Buddhist name plate with the names of the slain lawyer and his family written on it from the head priest of the Buddhist family temple of Tsutsumi Sakamoto (the lawyer he murdered with other Aum members). I had asked the priest through a friend and when the name plate was delivered to my cell, I could not stop crying.

Since then, I have chanted Buddhist sutras four times every day along with a prayer of thanks.

In the 10 years since I decided to turn myself in, I have felt the back of my throat and my chest tighten whenever I heard voices of bitterness, distress, emptiness and sadness.

Still, as long as I am living, I want to atone in some way to the victims and bereaved family members in whatever way that I alone can do.

I have prayed that I will be able to end my life by continuing to walk along the path of justness by casting one’s bread upon the waters until my punishment is carried out.

It was under those circumstances that I encountered the Zen sect to which the Sakamoto family temple also belonged.

It is an ironic twist of fate that I have been saved by another encounter with Buddhism after I committed a major crime after being caught in the evil spell of Buddhism.

True Buddhism is not a dependence on teachings, but an ascetic training of heightening one’s self through self-awareness.

Now, I am deeply grateful for having been saved and I pray from the bottom of my heart for the tranquillity of all those who I have come to know. Experiencing each moment of time and realizing the importance of living, I am now being kept alive through the warm support of those around me.

Until my last day, I will deeply appreciate the importance of being kept alive and continue to pray for the souls of the victims, while thinking about those left behind and hoping that their souls will feel some sense of relief.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
Apr. 8, 2005
Kiyotaka Iwata
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 8, 2005.
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