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August 9, 2012 / beautythroughharmony

Underground by Haruki Murakami.

Have you ever heard about Japanese religious sect Aum Shinrikyo and Tokyo gas attack happened in 1995? I don’t know why but due to some reasons I managed somehow to miss this news. And I have learned about it recently when a friend of mine advised to read a book Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami. The style of the book is not typical for Murakami. Actually it is not a fiction, it is some kind of a compilation of interviews of those who were attacked and who witnessed terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway more then ten years ago. It happens so quite often that we know pretty much about terrorists. We get information about their childhood, education, about their families and relations. But what do we know really about victims of terrorist attacks? Who are these ordinary people? Where did they go? What did they plan? What did they do for living? Their dreams and hopes? Well, as you can see but we know nothing about these average people who suffered and who died. We can hardly know their names, their age. It really seems to be unfair. Terrorists don’t deserve all this “fame and recognition”.
Murakami in his book introduction explains what he meant to do: “
The Japanese media had bombarded us with so many in-depth profiles of the Aum cult perpetrators the ‘attackers’ forming such a slick, seductive narrative that the average citizen the ‘victim’ was an afterthought… which is why I wanted, if at all possible, to get away from any formula; to recognize that each person on the subway that morning had a face, a life, a family, hopes and fears, contradictions and dilemmas and that all these factors had a place in the drama… ” The author along with an editorial board tried to gather as many individuals as possible to ask the questions. Not many agreed to be interviewed. It is obvious. Those who decided to depict the events of the day when the attack on Tokyo subway happened seem to be pretty outrageous. Everything they describe is really terrible. Almost all of them have the same memories of the day. The attack happened at eight o’clock sharp and was coordinated by five religious fanatics who released sarin in Tokyo Metro. Thirteen innocent passengers were killed, fifty were seriously injured and many others suffered from eye problems.

The attack was terrible and its consequences are impossible to estimate. Reading the book I was really impressed. But another thing that amazed me is an attitude of Japanese society to the tragedy. Many neglected it and were pretty indifferent to it and its victims. Thus they depicted how arrogant were their colleagues and even their friends. Many didn’t take into account that it was difficult for many to adopt to life circumstances after attack. Many couldn’t work but they had to and actually there was no any indulgence for them. Japanese people are shown as selfish individuals who focus on material values and suffer from the lack of communication.

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