The Kameido Anthrax Incident: A Microbial Forensics Case Study

Arnold F. Kaufmann, Paul S. Keim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter illustrates the Kameido Anthrax incident. The Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese religious sect, attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin, a chemical nerve agent. Subsequent investigations revealed that the sect had also attempted to develop and utilize biological weapons. In mid-1993, a bioterrorist attack with an aerosol containing Bacillus anthracis spores was launched in Kameido, Japan. On June 29–30, 1993, complaints about foul odors were registered with local environmental health authorities in Kameido in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The odors originated from the eight-story headquarters building of the Aum Shinrikyo. Some of the exposed persons reported appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting. Birds and pets were also reportedly ill, but the nature of these illnesses was not defined. Police investigations of the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system revealed that the Aum Shinrikyo was also involved in bioterrorism. Following the conservative Japanese policy of not revealing criminal evidence until the time of trial in court, the true nature of the Kameido incident was first disclosed to the public in May 1996. Aum Shinrikyo members had confessed that the odors resulted from efforts to aerosolize a liquid suspension of B. anthracis spores. The motive was to trigger an inhalational anthrax epidemic and a subsequent world war. The war would culminate in the Aum Shinrikyo members becoming a super-race that would rule the world in accord with Asahara's preaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicrobial Forensics, Second Edition
ISBN (Electronic)9780123820068
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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