chapter  5
23 Pages

The Tokyo sarin attack

The religious sect Aum Shinrikyo (which means Aum Supreme Cult) became the first-known non-state actor to successfully release a chemical weapon in a populated area with their sarin attacks on Matsumoto on 27 June 1994 and Tokyo’s subway system on 12 March 1995. The latter injured 3,796 and killed 12 and is the focus of this chapter. Compared to the other case studies, the assessment of this event relies more on qualitative evidence from first-hand accounts and observations than on quantitative material like medical papers and opinion polls. This study provides some key findings into how a populace responds to a chemical attack in a built up area, and how the response of the emergency services and government communication strategy can exacerbate the terror caused. A particular strength is the first-hand accounts and threat perceptions captured by interviews and observations by commentators.