May 21, 1995 in Nation/World

Cult’s Doctor Describes Release Of Tokyo Nerve Gas Told Police Of ‘Pangs Of Conscience’

Associated Press

Holding a bag filled with nerve gas, cult doctor Ikuo Hayashi felt a brief pang of conscience. Then he stabbed a hole in the bag with an umbrella, put it on the floor of the train he was riding and got off, leaving the deadly gas to poison commuters.

That is the account Hayashi has given police, according to reports Saturday that provided the first inside glimpse of the March 20 attack on Tokyo’s subways.

Several members of the doomsday cult Aum Shinri Kyo have reportedly admitted to participating in the attack that killed 12 people and sickened 5,500. Some described how they made sarin nerve gas and others admitted they carried out the attack.

But the account attributed to Hayashi, first reported in Saturday’s Asahi newspaper, went into much greater detail.

“When I looked around, the sight of many commuters leapt to my eyes,” Hayashi was quoted as telling police interrogators.

“I am a doctor. In theory I’ve been working to save people’s lives. I thought, ‘In spite of that, if I release this sarin fluid now by puncturing the bag with the tip of my umbrella many people could die at once.’

“Tormented by pangs of conscience, I hesitated and thought a number of times that I should stop. But I couldn’t go against (the cult’s) orders.”

The 48-year-old Hayashi, who was trained at prestigious Keio University, was the cult’s chief doctor.

Police refused to discuss the reported account.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email