2020 Summer Olympics

Japan considering anti-terror experiment at Tokyo railway station

  • The exercise is planned for February at Kasumigaseki Station, which was attacked by the Aum Shinrikyo cult with nerve gas in 1995
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 January, 2019, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 January, 2019, 10:56pm

The Japanese government is considering conducting luggage inspections at a Tokyo railway station as an experiment as it explores ways to strengthen public security before the 2020 Olympic Games, sources close to the matter said on Saturday.

The experiment is planned for February at Tokyo Metro’s Kasumigaseki Station, one of the busiest stations in Japan and which was attacked by the Aum Shinrikyo cult group with nerve gas in 1995. Around 150,000 passengers use the station every day.

Concerns about terror attacks on public transport infrastructure have also mounted after incidents on bullet trains in recent years.

In 2015, a self-immolation on a shinkansen bullet train killed a random passenger, and last year a man with a knife went on a rampage, killing one passenger and injuring two others.

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The government hopes the planned experiment will help it identify potential problems with the measure then consider whether it is feasible.

While hand luggage inspections on trains are common in some countries, Japan does not do them.

There is strong opposition among railway companies that argue inspections are inconvenient because they increase transit time for commuters. They also say it is difficult to find space dedicated for the purpose inside stations.

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The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has asked security companies and manufacturers of security equipment to suggest ways of conducting the experiment. It has also requested cooperation from the Japan Railway group and other operators.

After the knife attack on a shinkansen train in June, the ministry immediately considered introducing luggage inspections. But faced with opposition from railway companies, it only decided to prohibit unwrapped knifes on trains starting from April.