Regarding the May 5 editorial, “Death of bin Laden“: Japan should spare no efforts to prevent terror attacks. In order to recover completely from the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific earthquake and the subsequent nuclear plant crisis at Fukushima, Japan needs to concentrate on eradicating the risk of terrorist acts.
I had the unforgettable experience of treating victims of the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995, when I worked at a university hospital. The most important lesson was that when the unprecedented strikes, the private sector must respond swiftly. Japan itself does not have a prompt system for dealing with a major catastrophe because it has no streamlined chain of command. It is the same with the reconstruction efforts that Japan is now conducting in the disaster areas.
On the day of the gas attack, for example, hospitals in Tokyo did not receive any immediate remedial information from the police, fire department or other government organizations. The only institution that sent practical information to doctors was the Shinshu University Hospital, which had treated patients in the Matsumoto incident of June 1994.
For several years after the Tokyo gas attack, if my memory serves me right, many of the garbage boxes in Tokyo’s subway stations were tightly sealed to prevent terror attacks. In recent years, however, almost all garbage cans located where there is lots of foot traffic have become available. I wonder if this is a case of “the danger past and God forgotten.”
Prevention is better than the cure. And when it comes to counterterrorism, the most important measure is for Japan to clearly demonstrate that it is taking every possible action to reduce the risk of terror attacks. It’s time to step up those efforts.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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