As we foreshadowed in class we see Gen’s character develop further within this chapter. Gen is a very crucial part for the conversation between the terrorists and the hostages. We get more insight into the brains of the hostages that helps us relate and sympathize with them. Cesar, the young boy who is told to escort Roxane to the bathroom, has a soft side for her and is as mesmerized by her as everyone else seems to be. To quote, “The boy who came for Roxane Coss took her hand rather than her arm and held it in the manner of sweethearts looking for a deserted stretch of beach.” It is at this moment where I really believe these boys are victims under the generals’ power.
My interest was sparked in a very small thought Mr. Hosokawa had. “On every side of him was a person, some not six centimeters away. He felt like he was taking the Yamanote line into Tokyo station at eight in the morning.” Although just a subtle part in this chapter, I was really interested to research the public transportation used within Tokyo. The comment tells me that the transportation is vital to the economy of Tokyo but is seen as a stress in everyone’s daily routine. I have been to New York City and used their public transportation, such as subways. Therefore, learning about a city with a population of over 13 million (New York having about 8.5 million) seems not only impossible, but also chaotic (1, 2).
Saikyo, Chuo, Chuo/Sobu, Keihin-Tohoku and Yamanote are the five more relevant train lines used by those traveling around central Tokyo. The Yamanote line is the most important train line in Tokyo. It is a circular line, which connects all of Tokyo’s major city centers. Once boarding the train it takes about an hour to complete the circle. The Yamanote line goes through Shinjuku Stations, which is known as Japan’s busiest train station. Shinjuku Station can be found in the middle of a large business, entertainment and shopping district (3). Along with train lines, subways densly cover central Tokyo especially the interior of the Yamanote line that Mr. Hosokawa speaks of.
The Tokyo Metro is one of the cities two subway operators. The Metro owns niner of the 13 subway lines that are found within the metropolis. While these subway lines are crucial to getting around this buslting city the subway cannot act alone for transportation around Tokyo. They are best when used in combination with train lines, especially the Yamanote line. (4)
At first I needed to undertand the importance and size of the public transportation of Tokyo before digging into the known problems. “Some lines with the largest capacities carry 100,000 passengers on 30 trains per hour in one direction alone. It is actually painful to ride trains during rush hours because each car is crowded with more than twice as many passengers as the cars are designed for.” (5) I also found some videos of the train lines during rush around like Mr. Hosokawa was referring to. While I couldn’t find one on the Yamanote line these videos show the Seibu Line and the Saikyou line. These videos show how many people they really fit onto one train. You are able to see the people who work at the stations help push people in so the doors will shut. You can watch the videos here.
This really brings to light how different their society is then ours. The United States is huge on safety, if our trains are only made for a certain amount that is all they are taking. We make sure our citizens are kept safe on the resources given to them. It seems as if the mass at which Tokyo is growing has made it difficult for officials to try to figure out a way that works better for their society.
After learning about Tokyo’s public transportation the comparison made between Mr. Hosokawa’s situation and the reality of the Tokyo train system gives me a better understanding of how uncomfortable he really was. It also allows me to imagine the scene of all the bodies laying flat on the floor of the Vice President’s home. After seeing the videos of the transportation at rush hour it really made me worry for the safety of the people. How many people have gotten hurt when they were just simply trying to get to work. I would like to research further on the differences between America’s safety precautions and those of Japan, not just within transportation but within the work environment, medical facilities and other parts of everyone’s daily lives.
- Five Facts From Japan’s Population Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/04/20/five-facts-from-japans-population-statistics/
- Population – New York City Department of City Planning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/census/popcur.shtml
- JR Yamanote Line. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2370.html
- Tokyo Metro. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2375.html
- Nakamura, H. (n.d.). Japan Railway & Transport Review. Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.jrtr.net/jrtr04/f02_nak.html