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Tokyo: What are your memories of the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995?

by Sofia Elghazzali

Mitsuyoshi Nakamura
Retired, 58

I used to take that metro line every day to work. After the attack, I thought, “I could have been one of those victims.” I feel very sorry, but the attack could not have been prevented, because horrible people exist everywhere, in our society and elsewhere. Afterward, people changed the way they lived their lives because they couldn’t forget what happened. For example, they started avoiding crowded places out of fear of what might happen.

Haruo Saito
Salaryman, 61
The sarin attack was a huge shock to Japanese society as a whole. In this country there is a degree of religious diversity, but this sect (Aum Shinrikyo) was overly extremist, which was, and still is, shocking to me. I wondered — and I’m still wondering today — how they ever managed to attract devoted followers. The sarin gas attack is still a mystery to me; there are still so many unanswered questions.

Minami Iwanaga
Retired, 70
I used to live in Shizuoka, and as far as I can remember it was a holiday that day. I remember that some kind of new poison was used in the attack, and that many people were injured. I couldn’t believe it at first, but after that I just felt shocked and sorry for the victims. I still don’t understand how so many highly educated young people became trapped in such a dangerous sect, with such extremist beliefs.

Tatsuo Nakano
Fashion manager, 46
It felt as if it was the first terrorist attack in the history of Japan, so it was a very scary event for me. I was on the (Tokyo subway) Chiyoda Line just 30 minutes before the attack, so I basically missed it, but I still often think about the fact that I could have been one of the victims. Today, I still remember that day very clearly, because I could have lost my life in a very terrible way.

Takanori Hirai
Architect, 46
The attack was the first of its kind in Japan, but unfortunately it has been largely forgotten by Japanese society. At the time, I asked myself: What drove these people to plan this attack? But on TV and in the newspapers, no one tried to explain the doctrine of this sect or why they organized the attack. The media talked about the event, but without analyzing its causes and consequences. Unfortunately, this is typical of the Japanese media.

Kohei Shibata
Stage manager, 40
I was in Nagoya and my wife was in Tokyo at the time of the attack. She used to take the same metro line, so I was very worried about her. At that time, cellphones weren’t widely used, so contacting her was impossible. Even on TV there wasn’t much information at first. Personally, I think that what Bush did to the Iraqi people is a far more terrible crime than the sarin attack. But of course, the Aum attack was morally wrong.

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