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Police on alert as Tokyo becomes ‘Trump town’ this weekend

  • May 23, 2019
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 3:55 p.m.
  • English Press

As Tokyo prepares to host U.S. President Donald Trump this weekend, police authorities are beefing up security to protect the capital from potential threats, whether from the water, sky–or sumo arena.


Trump will be the first foreign dignitary to have an audience with Emperor Naruhito, and police want to ensure that everything goes smoothly during the president’s four-day state visit.


A Waterfront Response Team was established in mid-May to prevent amphibious terrorist attacks from Tokyo Bay. Its armed members will patrol the waters on jet skis and motorized rubber boats to avert threats to Haneda Airport, which is located in the waterfront area of Ota Ward.


The new team will join the emergency response team designed to protect against attacks on major facilities, such as the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace in Minato Ward and the Imperial Palace.


To protect such soft targets as Haneda Airport and Tokyo Station, uniformed police have been showing an increased presence. As part of the campaign, officers were out with their police dogs in the popular Akihabara district on May 23.


The biggest headache for Tokyo police will be dealing with what could be the largest soft target on Trump’s itinerary, Ryogoku Kokugikan in Sumida Ward, where the president will take in matches on May 26, the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, and present a trophy to the winner.


The arena holds about 11,000 spectators, and while there are VIP seats allowing for greater security, Trump will be sitting close to the dohyo in a “masuseki” box.


High-ranking Metropolitan Police Department officers are especially concerned about the trophy presentation, as it will entail Trump climbing into the ring to present the cup.


While all attendees of the sumo event will have their bags checked on the day, a large number of security personnel will be stationed around the venue to ensure safety.


Another concern for police are two unsolved incidents on May 2 and 6 involving what appeared to be drones flying near the Imperial Palace. On both days, riot police on security duty spotted red-and-white flashing lights in the sky, but it was difficult to determine what the objects were without video footage.


Traffic in the capital is also expected to be disrupted from May 25 when Trump arrives until his departure on May 28.


Parts of the Metropolitan Expressway system will be closed to vehicles, while some roads in central Tokyo will have restrictions imposed. On May 27, the sidewalks around the State Guest House will be closed to pedestrians.


Officials of East Japan Railway Co. said all lockers at Tokyo and Ryogoku stations will be sealed off.


Police are looking at the Trump visit as a dress rehearsal for security measures to be imposed during the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June as well as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.


(This article was written by Yohei Kobayakawa and Chihaya Inagaki.)

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