Chemical Spill in a Tokyo Train Determined an Accident
Accidental Spill Reminiscent of Historic Attack Not Linked To Foul Play
On October 9, 2023, an accidental chemical spill was reported on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line on the Hayabusa No. 52 Shinkansen train from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo. Six passengers were hurt in the incident after inhaling the fumes or suffered burn injuries.
The train stopped at Sendai Station, where passengers were evacuated after a 119 call was made. The chemical was from a plastic bottle carried by a 40-year-old office worker who worked for a geological survey company. Sendai City Fire Department firefighters with breathing gear were dispatched to investigate the spill.
Police officers from the Sendai Chuo Police Station reported that they plan to investigate the unnamed man on whether the method he used to carry the bottle on the train was inappropriate. NHK News also reported that the man boarded the Shinkansen from Shichinohe-Towada Station. It was reported that he can be charged for negligence resulting in serious injuries. According to witness on the train, they reported a faint pungent smell.
As of October 10, 2023, train services on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line have resumed.
The incident, while deemed an accident, evoked reminders of the Tokyo Metro sarin gas attacks on March 20, 1995 by members of Aum Shinrikyo, which used sarin gas to poison commuters using the subway. It also comes at a time when Japanese society is still highly influenced by recent trends of social violence not typical for Japan.
Analysts of Japan, while observing the country's statistic likelihood for violent demonstrations is low compared with counterparts of similar size, there has been an uptick of political violence and disasterous incidents in the nation.
In recent history, the country has been shaken by the unprecedented assassination of late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe was reportedly assassinated for his affiliation with the Unification Church, a religious organization that originated in South Korea. Last week, contemporary with the events at Tohoku Shinkansen Line, the nation disbanded the Japanese chapter of Unifcation Church, Time Magazine reported. The train incident, while appearing unrelated to any tracked criminal organizations, took place at a time when Japan struggles to level with its recent past.