(Yomiuri: January 5, 2016 – p. 32)
With the Group of Seven (G7) Summit (Ise-Shima Summit) scheduled for May this year, the government will beef up security measures in Tokyo. Amid the growing threat of international terrorism evidenced by such events as the simultaneous attacks in Paris, how will the government protect Tokyo? The following is an interview of Superintendent-General Kiyotaka Takahashi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD).
Question: What is your view of the current international terrorism situation?
Takahashi: “The simultaneous terrorist attacks took place in Paris last year, which significantly changed our perspective on counterterrorism measures. We absolutely need to prevent terrorism, which disrupts people’s daily lives.”
Q: What will be the security arrangements in Tokyo?
T: “The venue of the summit is in Mie Prefecture. However, there was a case in the past in which terrorists attacked the capital city distant from the venue. Tokyo is a high profile city, and may be targeted by terrorists. The TMPD will protect the metropolis with all-out efforts by mobilizing not only the departments of Public Security and Security, but also the departments of Criminal Investigations, Community Police Affairs, and Traffic. We need measures to protect not only important facilities but also soft targets where people gather.”
Q: How will the TMPD protect soft targets?
T: “We can’t post police officers at every place. We need cooperation from facility administrators in protecting their facilities. We also need to increase the number of guards and security cameras, as well as conduct baggage inspection. Cooperation of the private sector is essential to prevent terrorism. We want to actively provide the civilian sector with relevant information. Japan’s strength is such cooperation between the government and private sector, which will be able to create an environment to discourage terrorists from acting. Foreign security agencies value to some extent the Japanese counterterrorism model.”
Q: What units will respond to terrorism?
T: “In addition to the Special Assault Team (SAT), the TMPD established the Emergency Response Team (ERT) in case of a shoot-out. And we are enhancing training of those units. As for the new threat of drones, we established a specialized unit, which is able to capture a drone in the air.”
Q: Any other counterterrorism measures?
T: “Intelligence gathering is indispensable in counterterrorism. We will monitor social networking services, which are widespread today. The Japanese police are an intelligence agency and also a law enforcement agency. In order to nip evil in the bud, when necessary we will open a case if there is suspicious activity. Our experiences in preparation for the upcoming summit will surely be applicable to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Our traffic restrictions may inconvenience people, but we ask for understanding of the public.”