In preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will significantly beef up antiterrorism measures in Tokyo’s waterfront areas where Olympic venues are concentrated.
In addition to the MPD’s establishment of a new special squad that will respond to possible terrorist attacks from the ocean, railway companies will provide security camera footage from waterfront areas to the MPD in the event of an emergency.
With less than three years until the Tokyo Olympics, the MPD is accelerating its security preparations.
According to the MPD, 14 out of 39 Olympic venues, about 40%, are concentrated in waterfront areas, including the Olympic village that will be constructed in Chuo Ward’s Harumi district, which faces Tokyo Bay. Furthermore, Haneda Airport in Ota Ward, also surrounded by the ocean, is expecting an increased number of foreign VIPs and tourists, so the MPD has decided that strengthening security measures in waterfront areas will be crucial.
A new “maritime security squad” is scheduled for establishment by 2019 through the realignment of the Anti-Firearms squad of the Sixth Metropolitan Riot Police Unit headquartered in Shinagawa Ward close to Haneda Airport. The new squad will be composed of several dozen members capable of responding to terrorist attacks from the ocean. The members will operate on jet skis to find explosives and suspicious individuals around Haneda Airport and the Olympic venues.
In order to increase its initial response capability, the MPD will build a new office in Haneda Airport where the Tokyo International Airport Counterterrorism Unit will be stationed on a 24-hour basis with bomb-sniffing dogs. The MPD is considering significantly increasing the number of members of the Special Assault Team, established in 1996, which specializes in counterterrorism and responding to hijacks.
The MPD will also enhance its cooperation with the private sector. The police and Tokyo Metro operate a system that receives surveillance camera video from railway companies in the event of terrorist incidents or natural disasters.
Beginning this fiscal year, three more railway companies that operate trains along waterfront areas joined this system, including the new transit system Yurikamome, Tokyo Waterfront Rapid Transit, and Toei Transportation. In this way, the MPD intends to receive on-site information for a quick response in a timely manner.
“Tokyo waterfront areas are changing significantly in preparation for the Olympics,” said Public Security First Division Chief Haruyuki Kamaya of the MPD. “We need to improve our response readiness for terrorist attacks launched from the ocean.”