Astute observer of Japanese current events that I am, I completely forgot to note that this past Sunday marked the 10-year anniversary of the Aum Shinrikyo cult's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
On March 20, 1995, twelve people were killed and about 6000 were injured as cult members left plastic bags filled with the deadly nerve toxin on various train cars, puncturing the bags several times with sharpened umbrella tips to release the gas before making their getaway.
The attack hit the Chiyoda, Marunouchi, and Hibiya lines. If I were to take the subway to work, I would take the Chiyoda and Hibiya lines, switching at Kasumigaseki station.
Wikipedia describes the lackluster official response at the time:
Emergency services including police, fire and ambulance services were criticized for their handling of the attack and the injured, as were the media (some of whom, though present at subway entrances and filming the injured, hesitated when asked to transport victims to the hospital) and the Subway Authority, which failed to halt several of the trains despite reports of passenger injury. Health services including hospitals and health staff were also criticized: one hospital refused to admit a victim for almost an hour, and many hospitals turned victims away.Japan is often held up as an example of an efficient, well-run society, and it is until something goes wrong.