I just found out it’s 15 years ago today that the Sarin gas attacks took place on the Tokyo underground. I recently read the book, “Underground”, by Haruki Marakami. In these days, where every tiny little incident is so sensationalised, where we have booming voice overs making the trival epic, this is a quiet book.
For some reason, it really got to me. Stories of people going about their every day life – geting ready for work, eating their breakfast, saying goodbye to their family and catching the subway to work. Many of them saw a parcel of newspapers on the floor of the subway car or noticed a strange smell. One men felt quite ill from it but he’d got a seat on the packed subway and didn’t want to give it up.
Those people didn’t think they were victims of a terrorist attack. You wouldn’t. You’d just think “that’s odd” and assume that someone, somewhere would be dealing with it if it was a major incident.
People began getting sick but there was no system in place to deal with it. This was Tokyo, this kind of thing didn’t happen. Some of the victims took cabs to hospitals, where the staff had no idea what had happened. Others went into work. There was no Jack Bauer swooping down to save the day, no emergency task force to the rescue.
Even 15 years later, some of the victims suffer from the affects of this attack with health and pyschological problems. It’s horrid to think what a small group of insane people can do – not just causing death and injury, but undermine the trust we feel that our society, and our lives, are safe.