6 April, Yukiko Mari

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A Look Back at the Corona Crisis, in the Style of One of Those History Programs


It happened in the winter of 2020.
  The year of the Olympics had arrived; Japan was almost floating.
  In a neighboring country, a strange cold started going around. Sure, we’d heard people talking about it, but still, we went on without a thought.
  But that didn’t last long.
  Like a game of Othello where white is winning but then, eventually, black takes the lead, the world was swallowed by this mystery cold.
  Still, optimistic politicians and commentators kept saying:
  “This’ll all be over by Easter.”
  “It’s just the flu. Don’t panic.”
  “I see no need to wear masks.”
  But the Othello board kept being taken by black. By the start of March, cities across Europe and the United States were falling one after the other. The death toll, counted daily, mounted.
  Voices of despair clamored online.
  It’s the end of the world. I can’t deal with this. Somebody help!
  People became prisoners of their fear.
  “Tell us who’s infected!”
  “Put them under watch!”
  “Quarantine them!”
  They just didn’t hesitate. If we could escape from this fear, we could provide freedom, human rights, privacy. . . that’s how people came to think.
  Look at Europe. Look at America.
  Those who came before us must’ve fought, at such great expense, to win that freedom, those human rights, privacy. And the results were so fragile, before the mysterious cold came.
  And then they decided to declare a state of emergency in Japan, too. April 6th. And then, the next day, the official announcement.
  Thinking about it now, that was the start of everything. The turning point.
  That was 80 years ago.
  We all live in peace now, with no restrictions.
  If you feel a bit feverish, your doctor will contact you. No need to work. Every month, a necessary minimum amount of money is transferred to your bank account. If you have any worries, AI will solve them, and all crime, too, is prevented by AI.
  People call this world a utopia.
  But something about it makes me slightly uneasy.
  Every house has monitoring cameras in it, our bodies have GPS chips embedded in them, and surveillance drones are flying around outside.
  Is this really what they call a utopia?
  All I see is a dystopia.

(From the confiscated diary of a novelist, written in the year 2100)


Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Yukiko Mari
Born in Miyazaki Prefecture, 1964. Made her literary debut in 2005 with

Kochūshō

(Sparganosis), for which she won the 32nd Mephisto Prize. Her later work

Satsujinki

Fujiko

no

shōdō

(The impulse of Fujiko the killer), published in 2011, became a bestseller. Her other works include

Jinsei

sōdan

(Life consultation),

Gonin

no

Junko

(Five Junkos),

Ohitori-sama

sakka,

iyoiyo

neko

o

kau

(The solitary writer will finally own a cat),

Hatsukoi

sagashi

(Searching for first love), and

Sanbiki

no

kobuta

(The three little pigs). Her most recent work is

Saka

no

ue

no

akai

yane

(The red roof above the hill).


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