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Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psycheby Haruki Murakami
Synopses & Reviews
TOKYO METROPOLITAN SUBWAY LINE
Two men were assigned to drop sarin gas on the Chiyoda Line: Ikuo Hayashi and Tomomitsu Niimi. Hayashi was the principal criminal, Niimi the driver-accomplice.
Why Hayashi--a senior medical doctor with an active "front-line" track record at the Ministry of Science and Technology--was chosen to carry out this mission remains unclear, but Hayashi himself conjectures it was to seal his lips. Implication in the gas attack cut off any possibility of escape. By this point Hayashi already knew too much. He was devoted to the Aum cult leader Shoko Asahara, but apparently Asahara did not trust him. When Asahara first told him to go and release the sarin gas Hayashi admitted: "I could feel my heart pounding in my chest--though where else would my heart be?"
Boarding the front car of the southwestbound 7:48 a.m. Chiyoda Line, running from the northeast Tokyo suburb of Kita-senju to the western suburb of Yoyogi-uehara, Hayashi punctured his plastic bag of sarin at Shin-ochanomizu Station in the central business district, then left the train. Outside the station, Niimi was waiting with a car and the two of them drove back to the Shibuya ajid--Aum local headquarters--their mission accomplished. There was no way for Hayashi to refuse. "This is just a yoga of the Mahamudra," he kept telling himself, Mahamudra being a crucial discipline for attaining the stage of the True Enlightened Master.
When asked by Asahara's legal team whether he could have refused if he had wanted to, Hayashi replied: "If that had been possible, the Tokyo gas attack would never have happened."
Born in 1947, Hayashi was the second son of a Tokyo medical practitioner. Groomed from middle and secondary school for Keio University, one of Tokyo's two top private universities, upon graduating from medical school he took employment as a heart and artery specialist at Keio Hospital, after which he went on to become head of the Circulatory Medicine department at the National Sanatorium Hospital at Tokaimura, Ibaragi, north of Tokyo. He is a member of what the Japanese call the "superelite." Clean-cut, he exudes the self-confidence of a professional. Medicine obviously came naturally to him. His hair is starting to thin on top, but like most of the Aum leadership, he has good posture, his eyes focused firmly ahead, although his speech is monotonous and somehow forced. From his testimony in court, I gained the distinct impression that he was blocking some flow of emotion inside himself.
Somewhere along the line Hayashi seems to have had profound doubts about his career as a doctor and, while searching for answers beyond orthodox science, he became seduced by the charismatic teachings of Shoko Asahara and suddenly converted to Aum. In 1990 he resigned from his job and left with his family for a religious life. His two children were promised a special education within the cult. His colleagues at the hospital were loath to lose a man of Hayashi's caliber and tried to stop him, but his mind was made up. It was as if the medical profession no longer held anything for him. Once initiated into the cult, he soon found himself among Asahara's favorites and was appointed Minister of Healing.
Once he had been called upon to carry out the sarin plan, Hayashi was brought to Aum's general headquart
Covers the 1995 Tokyo Gas Attack, during which agents of a Japanese cult released a gas deadlier than cyanide into the subway system, as documented in interviews with its survivors, perpetrators, and victim family members. Original. 15,000 first printing.
From Haruki Murakami, internationally acclaimed author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, a work of literary journalism that is asfascinating as it is necessary, as provocative as it is profound.
In March of 1995, agents of a Japanese religious cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin, a gas twenty-six times as deadly ascyanide. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from the survivors to the perpetrators to the relatives of those who died, and Underground istheir story in their own voices. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warningof what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely and vital and as wonderfully executed as Murakami's brilliant novels.
Fromthe Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Map of the Tokyo subway: Underground: Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Chiyoda line: Nobody was dealing with things calmly / Kiyoka Izumi — I've been here since I first joined / Masaru Yuasa — At that point Takahashi was still alive / Minoru Miyata — I'm not a sarin victim, I'm a survivor / Toshiaki Toyoda — It's not even whether or not to take the subway, just to go out walking scares me now / Tomoko Takatsuki — Day after the gas attack, I asked my wife for a divorce / Mitsuteru Izutsu — Luckily I was dozing off / Aya Kazagucchi — Everyone loves a scandal / Hideki Sono — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Marunouchi line (destination: Ogikubo): I felt like I was watching a program on TV / Mitsuo Arima — Looking back, it all started because the bus was two minutes early / Kenji Ohashi — That day and that day only I took the first door / Soichi Inagawa — If I hadn't been there, somebody else would have picked up the packets / Sumio Nishimura — I was in pain, yet I still bought my milk as usual / Koichi Sakata — Night before the gas attack, the family was saying over dinner, "My, how lucky we are" / Tatsuo Akashi — "Li-yu-nii-an (Disneyland)" / Shizuko Akashi — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Marunouchi line (destination: Ikebukuro): "What can that be?" I thought / Shintaro Komada — I knew it was sarin / Ikuko Nakayama — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Hibiya line (departing: Naka-meguro): "What if you never see your grandchild's face?" / Hiroshige Sugazaki — I had some knowledge of sarin / Kozo Ishiro — I kept shouting, "Please, please, please!" in Japanese / Michael Kennedy — That kind of fright is something you never forget / Yoko Lizuka — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Hibiya line (departing: Kita-senju; destination: Naka-meguro): I'd borrowed the down payment, and my wife was expecting-it looked pretty bad / Nuburu Terajima — In a situation like that the emergency services aren't much help at all / Masanori Okuyama — Ride the trains every day and you know what regular air / Michiaki — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Hibiya line: Some crazy's probably sprinkled pesticides or something / Takanori Ichiba — We'll never make it. If we wait for the ambulance we're done for / Naoyuki Ogata — It'd be pathetic to die like this / Michiru Kono — Day of the gas attack was my sixty-fifth birthday / Kei'ichi Ishikura — Tokyo Metropolitan Subway: Kodemmach Station: I saw his face and thought: "I've seen this character somewhere" / Ken'ichi Yamazaki — He was such a kind person. He seemed to get even kinder before he died / Yoshiko Wada — He was an undemanding child / Kichiro; Sanae Wada — Sarin! Sarin! / Koichiro Makita — Very first thing that came to mind was poison gas-cyanide or sarin / Dr. Toru Saito — There is no prompt and efficient system in Japan for dealing with a major catastrophe / Dr. Nobuo Yanagisawa — Blind nightmare: Where are we Japanese going? — Place that was promised: I'm still in Aum / Hiroyuki Kano — Nostradamus had a great influence on my generation / Akio Namimura — Each individual has his own image of the Master / Mitsuharu Inaba — This was like an experiment using human beings / Hajime Masutani — In my previous life I was a man / Miyuki Kanda — "If I stay here," I thought, "I'm going to die" / Shin'ichi Hosoi — Asahara tried to force me to have sex with him / Harumi Iwakura — No matter how grotesque a figure Asahara appears, I can't just dismiss him / Hidetishi Takahashi.
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