A tip that Aum Shinrikyo might try to disrupt plans by police to probe its activities was received shortly before the cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin in 1995, the national police chief at the time revealed in an interview.
The account by former National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, 72, during a recent interview with a woman who was widowed in the nerve gas attack raises new questions about whether the attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000 could have been prevented.
“We had information that Aum Shinrikyo might possibly take some kind of action because they expected that their headquarters in Yamanashi Prefecture would be raided on March 22,” Kunimatsu told his interviewer, Shizue Takahashi, 63.
But the information was not specific enough to believe Aum would actually carry out the attack, the former police chief said.
During trials held for key members of the group, many of the cultists said they were told by their guru, Shoko Asahara, to attack the subway system to derail a police plan to crack down on them.
A video recording of the interview will be played at a public viewing on March 13, along with interviews with other people involved in the case ahead of the 15th anniversary of the attack.
Kunimatsu, who was the NPA’s commissioner general at the time, was shot several times at the entrance to his Tokyo condominium days after police raided Aum after the subway attack.
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