crime

Parents of ex-Aum fugitive Naoko Kikuchi apologize

48 Comments

The parents of former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Naoko Kikuchi have issued a statement apologizing for their daughter's alleged crimes.

Kikuchi, 40, was arrested in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, on June 3 after 17 years on the run. Police said she has admitted being part of the team responsible for producing the sarin nerve gas used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack. “It is true that I was involved in producing sarin gas, but I did not know what we were making it for at that time,” she was quoted as telling police.

A lawyer for Kikuchi's parents read a statement from them, in which they said they were deeply ashamed and apologized for all the harm their daughter had caused, NTV reported.

In the statement, Kikuchi's mother says: "My daughter Naoko caused big trouble for everyone. She turned her back on society and hid for a long time. As her parents, my husband and I apologize very deeply to the victims and their bereaved families. We tried to convince Naoko to leave Aum Shinrikyo, but we couldn't do it. When Naoko left our home in 1990, we could not contact her and then that terrible thing happened on the subway. We felt helpless that we could not do anything.

"To Naoko, all I can say now is that I am sorry that I did not understand your feelings at that time and that I did not know what to do for you. Thank you for choosing to live. Please sleep well."

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48 Comments
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I feel bad for Naoko's parents, having to carry the shame of what happened, for the rest of their lives. I wonder how their neighbors are treating them, considering that everyone knows what their daughter has done..

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Yeah, I agree. Imagine the misery they must have endured for the last 17 years, not to mention whilst the girl was in a cult.That's a brave apology.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

And expression of remorse and shame is quite enough. An apology makes no sense. I think if it was me I would just publicly disown her. The parents are quite simply not to blame, but an apology makes it look like they somehow are. They didn't know she was making sarin.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

apologize after she got caught? why did you wait 17 years? was her guilt in doubt?

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

It is a nice sentiment that they apologized, but shouldn't she be the one apologizing?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is another thing that is totally messed up about this country. They go after fellon's parents, as if it was they who commited the crime. It's really messed up. Parents themselves are pretty stupid assuming that apology will get them somewhere. It wasn't the parents who comit the crime! get your stories straight, oh and by the way, There was no trial yet, so please... innocent until proven guilty.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Oh right, the parents have apologised so all is forgiven then. Pointless. People just don't grow up in this country - this has absolutely nothing to do with the parents.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

17 years running away, does her parents knows nothing?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

In my view, this is coming from parental love for their daughter more than anything else. While taking the form of an alology statement delivered to the nation, the more important objective of this I suspect is to indirectly communicate and connect with their daughter's emotions and morale. They lost all contact with her ever since she fled to the Aum world of things decades ago and don't really know who she is today, what kind of a human being she has become through the yrs of isolation with the everyday world. Through reiterating and reconfirming the atrocious criminal act she was part of (regardless of nature and degree of direct involvement) and ensuring that the appropriate apologies (long overdue) are delivered to the nation on her behalf, I believe they are actually seeking to bring some good senses into her as a critical baseline before intrafamily dialogue resumes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not your fault, you tried to get your daughter to leave the cult, she would not,I wish you well

10 ( +10 / -0 )

People just don't grow up in this country - this has absolutely nothing to do with the parents.

If you don't understand the "why" behind this then I do believe that you really don't understand Japanese people. It may not be something that a foreigner might do, but for a Japanese family, how people view them and their place in a community, is very important.

Their apology, while to many seemingly an unnecessary act, too a lot of guts.

It wouldn't have mattered 17 years ago to apologize, it matters NOW.

It won't change one iota how the courts handle her case but it helps bring peace of mind to the family and probably their neighbors too. The parents, right or wrong, believe in their minds that they for whatever reason, feel shame and guilt because of their daughters actions and that they somehow were responsible in their own way as well.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

It wouldn't have mattered 17 years ago to apologize, it matters NOW.

I do not understand this logic. I was here when this even happened and I think an apology would have meant more then. Matter of fact, I have been here for 22 years and do not understand your logic.

I DO understand why parents apologize, but not after she got caught.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Debucho - You don't think there's a fair chance that the parents have been besieged by journalists since she was apprehended? That's why now. I have no idea what, if any, comment they made 17 years ago but it's fairly obvious why they're speaking about it now.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

She was just as guilty 17 years ago. What about the 17 years the families of the people she killed had to live with? A very shallow apology probably to make themselves feel better IMO

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Yubaru, I understand what you're saying, and I know the parents did this mainly because that's 'the done thing' in Japan when a parent's kid commits a serious crime. Maybe this apology matters to some people – I was just voicing my opinion. Personally, I think that the parents of a 40-year old woman apologizing for something is a bit ridiculous.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

People just don't grow up in this country - this has absolutely nothing to do with the parents.

@Cubic

Generally, I would agree with you, but as Yubaru said, you need to come at from a Japanese perspective and NOT from a western one.

To add what Yubaru touched on. A lot of that comes from Confucianism Which kinda says that the child is basically an extension of the parent, so whatever the child does in society good or bad, the parent will always have to share the burden of responsibility for the child, since they were born from their parents. When most Asian kids do well in school, it reflects positively on them as well as the parents and vice versa. That is another reason why kids have too much pressure, you have to make your parents look good. This is also the reason as to why many parents go nuts when their kids get pierced earrings or tattooed up because you marked yourself, which means, you marked your parents body, you disrespected them, of course many kids nowadays don't care, but most of their parents do, especially the older traditional ones. You don't desecrate your body. Many foreigners need to understand, just because the Japanese like Hagen Daz, watch MTV, listen to their iPods and wear Levi's doesn't make them Western(ized) in the way you think. Traditional has mega deep roots and Japanese have their own way and traditions they follow. You have to throw out everything you have learned or grew up with in a western society when living in Japan. It really means nothing. If you can do that, then you will realize, what the parents did was logically, a brave, right and a little bit expected to do.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

If I had a nickel for every time my parents had to apologize for me... This one somehow trumps any of my previous offenses however.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People just don't grow up in this country - this has absolutely nothing to do with the parents.

I agree. The one who should be apologizing is the person who did the crimes. After all, I believe that she was an adult when they happened. If she had been a minor, then maybe I could see the parents offer of an apology. But this was a grown lady, responsible for her own actions.

A lot of that comes from Confucianism Which kinda says that the child is basically an extension of the parent,

I get the system here in Japan is based on these beliefs, but I guess most Westerners have different views on these types of things. We can't just let the good or bad of what a family member has done define us in most cases. We have seen many cases where someone from supposedly a "good family" (i.e. Kennedy's) does bad things, and it may bring some shame on the family name for that individual, the family still goes on. One just can't blame the parents for what an adult has decided to do.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Before we get into the cultural implications specific to the Japan society behind the statement of her parents, I believe it is far more important to remember that this woman has been fleeing for years since the police raided the Aum facility with other former-Aum members with limited psychological engagement with the outside world and has never had the opportunity to be treated of her state of mind control. Regardless of her recent comments stating she no longer maintains her Aum belief, I believe a lot of work needs to be done (on the part of her parents in particular) in enabling her to psychologically reconnect with the outside world and develop a true understanding of the atocities committed. For that I continue to believe the most important intended target audience for her parents' statement is her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

why? He was an adult responsible for his own actions.... An apology frm his parents is just meaningless

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

BS - No need for the parents to apologize. They did nothing wrong. As an adult we are the only one responsible for our actions (not our parents, nor our employers - that's being childish)...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The parents seem to believe that the path their daughter took is a direct result of the way they raised her. Just like the parents of successful children will take all the credit, these parents are willing to take all the blame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I believe a lot of work needs to be done (on the part of her parents in particular) in enabling her to psychologically reconnect with the outside world and develop a true understanding of the atocities committed.

I don't believe that. She knew fully what she had done was bad, or she wouldn't have hidden for so long. She can tell right from wrong. She knew she had to keep a low profile in order to not get arrested. She knew that she couldn't use her real name for things and had to assume a false identity. To me, that shows that this person was aware of what her actions had caused, and was aware of her role in society. No time to coddle her now and to help her to "understand" what she did was wrong, she knew.

The parents seem to believe that the path their daughter took is a direct result of the way they raised her.

So I take it that her parents were the Japanese equivalent of "Red-Diaper Babies" (it is a term that is used in the US), that made her turn into the activist that she is today. Even if they were, this person still knew what was right and wrong. As I stated, even if she was raised that way by them, she obviously knew what they taught her was wrong or she wouldn't have hidden for so long.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I do not understand this logic. I was here when this even happened and I think an apology would have meant more then. Matter of fact, I have been here for 22 years and do not understand your logic.

I DO understand why parents apologize, but not after she got caught.

You really don't want to start talking about how many years you've been here because there is always going to be someone who has been here longer.

Even after saying that there are quite a few long-timers as well that will never understand what I wrote either, but the one's who know, understand it very easily,, and it doesn't really matter how long one has lived here to get the logic behind what I wrote.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

but I guess most Westerners have different views on these types of things. We can't just let the good or bad of what a family member has done define us in most cases.

Fair enough, and I know this feeling and opinion as well.

In the west, while we tend to separate ourselves from the bad things our children or parents do, we have a habit though of taking credit when it's the opposite.

Here it's both sides.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alphaape: I don't think the situation is that simple, in that there is a meaning to debate whether she knew "right" from "wrong". The issue at hand here (as with many other cult/terrorist activities in general) is rather that the members of Aum at the time (incl her) directly or indirectly committed those crimes mainly because they believed they were doing the "right" thing. Overall, Japan remains unable to conclude and explain from a sociological, philosophical and psychological standpoint why so many "elites" with respectable academic backgrounds actually fell under the mind control of Aum and took part in those atrocious criminal activities targeted at innocent civilians (particularly at the time of such economic growth and prosperity). This acts must have been driven by a very strong conviction, and it should also have been the case for this woman. The message from her parents imply that some fundamental debate has taken place between them just prior to her entering Aum priesthood.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can't say whether what Kikuchi's parents did is a good or a bad thing. It's their choice, she's their daughter. At least I hope they issued an apology because they love her, not because of how society views them.

I understand that you must look at it from the Japanese's point of view, but still, why is the way they're viewed by others so important? And don't say Confucianism here, because I highly doubt that parents think of confucianism every time they have to issue an apology. I mean, I know there are special historical reasons and such, but why won't they even try a tiny bit to change it? Afterall, it hasn't brought any good to anyone from what I've seen and heard.

I personally think it feels better to be a gaijin in Japan than to be a native Japanese, because there's just too much pressure. The society that seems to be so well developed with awesome traditions, seems to nurture its worst traditions and habits more than any other.

And they also seem to think that their "sumimasen" will always work, be it nuclear bomb or a sarin gas attack.

I kind of do understand the way the Japanese think, but just thinking about it makes me feel pressured @_@

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think any responsible parent be they western or Japanese would blame themselves for something their child had done (whatever age that child is) and would want to offer an apology. I know I would feel like that, and that I had failed in my duties as a parent if my kids grew up to commit such horrible crimes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

but still, why is the way they're viewed by others so important?

Easy answer, it's a part of the culture, not sticking out, particularly when something goes wrong.

The hard answer is much more difficult to both explain and understand as well because it's so different from what westerners are accustomed to. My deceased father-in-law ALWAYS was concerned with how people outside the house viewed him and his family. It was illogical as hell because inside the house with family he liked to believe he was king, even when he was wrong. To family he could do as he pleased, outside the house, totally different.

Illogical? Hard to understand? Yes to both, his explanation......it's the culture.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

RE: OMGhontoni's opinion above:

There you have it!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yubaru:

In the west, while we tend to separate ourselves from the bad things our children or parents do, we have a habit though of taking credit when it's the opposite.

Exactly!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

While I realize Naoko was just caught and the whole thing is back in the spotlight again, why wait until now to apologize? Is this the first time they have? I could see them apologizing AGAIN now, but if they didn't back then it doesn't carry as much weight (and if they did, then I take it all back).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Easy answer, it's a part of the culture, not sticking out, particularly when something goes wrong.

I guess that is part of Japan I will never understand. Not sticking out is part of the culture, yet you have Japanese sho spend enourmous amount on products that in other places are fairly cheap. Yet, they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

why so many "elites" with respectable academic backgrounds actually fell under the mind control of Aum and took part in those atrocious criminal activities

So did she come from these so called "eilites"? If so, see my above posting. How can one have so called "elites" when the country is geared for "not sticking out." But you had some of the same things happening in the USA back in the 70's. Patty Hearst is a good example, as well as some of the other radicals in the 60's and 70's who caused destruction, but came from so called "elites." If that is the case, then they knew more than others what their actions would have on the general public. Not liking a society and rebelling in one thing, but then going and using gas to attack innoncents is another. If what they believed in was so right, they would have proclaimed it and told everyone about their plans for the destruciton of the society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Have we seen any children apologise for their parents' mishaps or felonies?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd be interested to see what other Japanese people think of these apologising rituals, especially the people affected by what the criminal(s) had done. I understand that it's what people do here, but if the logic behind the apology is as Yubaru says, to bring piece of mind to the family/community, is that not quite a selfish reason for issuing the apology in the first place?

It's only my opinion (which matters squat in the grand scheme of things), and maybe I don't understand the culture as well as others here, but if I was somebody who was affected by what the Aum did, I'd probably see the apology as self-serving, and feel quite angered towards the parents.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Alphaape: Again here I am not seeking to debate "right" vs "wrong" which I don't think will get us anywhere, mainly because I don't think you and I disagree on this in the first place. My point was rather in suggesting that there is probably need to "unfreeze" her mind and that the statement from her parents, while it does take the form of a public apology on behalf of their daughter, may be intended as a first step towards that direction. I don't think she would be someone categorized as an "elite" by the way. Hopefully she can eventually become someone who can speak out to help us define and conclude what it was that actually happened nearly 2 decades ago once her mind can reconnect with society. The concern is that the Aum organization essentially still in existence may prevent her from doing so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't think there are much cultural implications on the act of apology itself in this case, other than the possible tendency for the people here under similar circumstances to deliver such apology statements (verbally or written), not as a means expected of any productive or positive outcome (it would naturally be perceived as "self- serving in any event) but rather as something she (or in this case, her parents) should be expected and required to do at a minimum, as a show of sincerity. They are likely to be further criticized if they didn't even apologize.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess that is part of Japan I will never understand. Not sticking out is part of the culture, yet you have Japanese sho spend enourmous amount on products that in other places are fairly cheap. Yet, they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

The only times it seems that it is acceptable to stick out is when it's something good. Being good in sports, studying, a politician, (I just added that one for humor's sake). Something that would make your family and most importantly your parents proud. But one would have to be humble about it too, or at least quiet, and let others do the praising for you.

Bad stuff....forget it. I know families who were ostracized in their communities because one of their children acted out in JHS and caused all sorts of trouble for the teachers and school. The community blamed the family for their off-springs misdeeds and they eventually moved to get away from it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Clemens Simon: "Have we seen any children apologise for their parents' mishaps or felonies?"

Touche! Unfortunately, I bet in many cases we have -- no perhaps not so high profile. I mean if I stepped out the front door and saw my dad peeing on the neighbour's flowers you'd bet I would make an apology later. Thing is, with the parents, even though I don't blame them at all in this case, that since you're kind of 'responsible' for your kid, and how they've been raised, there's more likely to be an apology in such cases. It's also, bottom line, a way of trying to make amends.

Remember, in a lot of Western nations an apology is seen as an admittance of guilt, whereas it may not be in many cases, and in a lot of cases in Japan it is just a way of getting past the issue, guilty or not, right or wrong.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A little too much hot air from everyone?

Truth is, I for one don't know the extent of her involvement at all, much less contact w/ parents. It seems to me a lot of ppl want to be bitter and unforgiving of even the rents, who seemingly have abso-lootly nothing to do w/ the sarin. Other hand, it could very well be abusive or cold upbringing of the parents that caused her to feel she need ed a cult... They could be indirectly responsible for the attack.

About the woman herself, I seem to remember she joined as a high schooler, and was like 21 at the time of the attack? Could be an innocent, preyed upon kid. If she was not directly involved in killing ppl, and helped making it w/o knowing how it would be used, I wouldn't hold it too much against her. She is a victim in some ways as a young recruit. But we can't know these things, she could have been highly involved in planning how to kill ppl. In which case give her death, or life in prison.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapan:

Touche! Unfortunately, I bet in many cases we have -- no perhaps not so high profile.

...and will be even more in the future with the greying society and all, I guess. Shoplifting among the (bored and lonely) ederly is definitely on the rise and in most cases the children are contacted and apologize. Same for the senile elderly (also on the rise) who also often end up in embarrassing situations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Remember, in a lot of Western nations an apology is seen as an admittance of guilt,

If its not, then its not an apology. It is an expression of remorse. The words "I'm sorry" could go either way depending on the context. So the problem is one of mistranslation, not a cultural misunderstanding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese people are quite famous for saying "Gomen nasai" but I would say that at least half the time it's use is meaningless. I think many westerners do the same as well too.

However, that isn't the point, and no matter if you think it's insincere or not, the apology is expected in many given circumstances and the "I'm sorry" is perfectly fine and acceptable.

People I believe misunderstand the semantics of how Japanese people use the words and put their own Judeo-Christian ideas of what "I'm sorry" means to them behind it.

I'm sorry means nothing if the person doesn't "hansei suru" , it's just a throw away "expected" phraselike when the girl at the McDonald's drive through makes you wait 20 minutes because he forgot your french fries. (Bad example maybe but I think people get the idea) And she keeps bowing and apologizing until you pull out of the drive thru, then rushes back inside and has already forgotten wth she just did.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd be interested to see what other Japanese people think of these apologising rituals, especially the people affected by what the criminal(s) had done. I understand that it's what people do here, but if the logic behind the apology is as Yubaru says, to bring piece of mind to the family/community, is that not quite a selfish reason for issuing the apology in the first place?

Well, different scenario but I do distinctly remember the JR west rail disaster years ago where the train took the bend too fast and over a hundred people were killed. It turned out a big part of the reason was the pressure management put on the driver to be bang on time at the station. Anyway, they put some poor low-level schmuck out in front of the crowds to apologise, in front of the place where people were laying flowers, and it was horrible to be honest! While the cameras were on him and he stood there bowing and apologising, people were screaming abuse at him and hitting him over the head! Now, I can totally understand peoples anger, but THIS wasnt the guy that caused anything. He wasnt even in a management position. The actual managers were hiding away like the cowards they were. So in conclusion no, I dont think Japanese accept apologising rituals either, but know the deed has been done and there is nothing else the apologist can do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Parents have nothing to apologise for, they did nothing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yubaru says, to bring piece of mind to the family/community, is that not quite a selfish reason for issuing the apology in the first place?

It isn't just that it's accepting responsibility in their own way for the manner in which their off-spring acted. Apologizing while she was on the lam, publicly that is, says in a manner of speaking that they somehow knew or were aware that their daughters actions were inexcusable and they were accountable. It was proper to wait until she was apprehended.

Did any actually notice that the apology just wasn't to the public, but was directed towards their daughter as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So in conclusion no, I dont think Japanese accept apologising rituals either, but know the deed has been done and there is nothing else the apologist can do.

Of course they don't accept it, but they put up with it and allow it to happen.

If all was right in the world in the case you used as an example the board or president should have resigned in disgrace first, then the apologizes would have been seen as sincere, no matter who made them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Noako Kikuchi:

“It is true that I was involved in producing sarin gas, but I did not know what we were making it for at that time,”

What?? No apology?!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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