JAPAN: LOST WITHOUT A FAITH

IN THE SPIRITUAL VACUUM OF THE POSTWAR YEARS, SOME JAPANESE SEEK NEW GODS

ONE WAY TO DESCRIBE THE MASS POISONING IN TOKYO IS AS a gruesome practical joke. Behind every practical joke is someone trying to play God. The murderous joker remains unseen, deciding the fate of others as though by divine intervention. The more the panic-stricken victims search for the source of their misfortune, the more the killer enjoys the spectacle, reveling in a feeling of omnipotence.

Religious leader Shoko Asahara, who is being sought for questioning in connection with the subway attack, could strike one as such a figure. Of course, the Japanese are hardly the only people to produce mimics of...

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