Japan Witness


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Hello and welcome to this special edition of Witness with me, Mariko


Oi. I'm here in Tokyo to introduce you to five people who've


experienced extraordinary moments in Japanese history first-hand. We'll


meet a doctor who treated thousands of the injured at Hiroshima. Two


brothers who were among the first to learn the Suzuki method of playing


the violin. And a cameraman who captured Japan's royal wedding in


the nineteen fifties. But first, in 1995, this city's busy subway system


was brought to a standstill when the deadly nerve gas sarin was released


at this station behind me. It later transpired it had been released in


five locations across the network by the cult.


At the height of the morning rush-hour in the world's most


crowded underground system, the madness of indiscriminate murder.


More than 3000 subway passengers were affected.


TRANSLATION: At 8:12am I was told there was a suspicious object on the


train which had just arrived, so I went up to the platform upstairs and


I saw a train stopped right there. Several people had been seen


plotting packages at stations and on a number of trains. I saw a package


wrapped in newspaper, it was leaking, said this man, then the


stinging fumes hit my eyes. TRANSLATION: My colleague was


communicating with headquarters from the driver's cab. Another colleague,


Mr Takahashi, was wiping the platform with newspaper. I saw a


trail of spots. It looked like oil spilt as it had been carried out of


the train onto the platform. I put the crumpled newspapers which had


been used to wipe the floor in a plastic bag. The three of us put all


the newspapers in the bag. I was worried that these things might


explode so I took the bag downstairs to the office. Then I heard Mr


Takahashi had collapsed. The unseen chemicals striking people


down in a matter of seconds. They tripped and vomited, some were


blinded and paralysed. One of the first confirmation is that a deadly


nerve gas had caused the poisoning was given by this Doctor. It is


sarin, he said, it is one of the worst of all poisons. TRANSLATION:


by then my body had started shivering. I tried to make a report


about the A12 a.m. Train but my hand was shaking and I couldn't even


write eight -- 8:12am. So I took of my cap and uniform and washed my


face. I guess I was trying to pull myself together. Then I collapsed.


When I woke up I was in hospital. My staff were there. Because I knew Mr


Takahashi had collapsed, I was wondering how he was doing. I wanted


to ask but I had to sit in my mouth, so I got a pen and paper and wrote


his name. One of the staff made a sign like this. Then I wrote Mr He


Zi Numa's name. The worker made the same sign. Out of the three of us


only I have survived. My colleagues told me after I collapsed they


carried me upstairs together and they evacuated all of the passengers


from Kasumigaseki Station. There were no passengers killed at that


station. The leader of a Japanese cult has


been sentenced to death for masterminding a gas attack in Tokyo


nine years ago. He ordered the release of sarin into the


underground system. TRANSLATION: The pain never stops coming after me


because two of my subordinates died and me, the supervisor, survived. I


wish I'd known about salary and how to deal with it. I could have made


them washed their hands and faces. I feel I simply wasn't good enough as


the person in charge. Speaking to us from his home in


Tokyo. And next, in the post-war era, this musician developed a new


method of teaching the violin. The system would later catch on around


the world. The brothers were two of his first students.


I started the violin at the age of ten. I'm one of the first teachers


of the Suzuki method. I studied at the age of four. My brother was


already listening to my practice. The idea here is that from the age


of three, Japanese children can be taught to play simple tunes by ear.


As the Japanese teacher Suzuki says himself, they learn to speak with


the violin at the same time as they learn to speak their mother tongue.


Hideya and Toshiya there, still playing the violin 50 years later.


In 1956 reports came to urge about what became known as Japan's worst


case of industrial pollution in the town. These two were among those


devastated by the disaster. TRANSLATION: I can't tell you just


how much I hate a chemical factory. The corporation devastated the ocean


and our people. I just hate it. People used to say that life in the


town was wonderful. The corporation was the only company


in the town. We are still frightened by the awfulness of the mercury that


was leaked from the factory. It poisoned the fish and then people


who ate the seafood got disease. There had been no poisoning before a


chemical factory was built in the Bay. But the company denied all


responsibility and continued to pump its waste into the sea. TRANSLATION:


People went blind and danced round and round like crazy. Soon it was


clear that people were suffering as well.


TRANSLATION: She was my first daughter.


She couldn't eat fish well because she was only three years old, but


she could eat prawns by herself, so I let her eat a lot of prawns. We


thought something might be wrong with her. We thought she might have


the disease when her hand started shaking. I realised she had the


disease. She became unable to walk properly, unable to speak.


Doctors from the local university filmed the shaking fits. They


suspected metal poisoning. TRANSLATION: When I visited her in


hospital she had lost her sight, but she could still hear. I said to her,


your mum is here, you don't have to cry any more.


She gave me a sweet smile. It was her last smile. On January the third


of 1958, she died. By 1958 win you it was caused by the


company, by waste water pumped into the bay by the factory. They tried


to hide it. My second child is Shinovu. She contracted the disease


in the room. I didn't think it was possible. But three months after she


was born I noticed something was wrong with her. Shinobu is now 59


years old. In 1959, the corporation offered some consolation money.


Human life cannot be


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