Citizens and former riot policemen mobilized for security in Tokyo

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

Yomiuri Shimbun, April 11th
(Translated from the Japanese)

Less than 3 months before the beginning of the G8 Summit at Lake Toya, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department - which will send over 1000 riot policemen to the venue of the Summit - also presses ahead with the preparation for the maintenance of security in the Tokyo area.

Facing unknown threats like international terrorism and radical antiglobalization movements, the Police Department also consults citizens and former riot policemen given that important facilities in the metropolitan area could become the target of terrorist attacs.

Citizens' Power

The Department asked local citizens to help with the security surveillance. In areas like Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, neighborhood associations and local merchants' associations set up an organization consisting of approximately 3000 people and watch out for suspicious persons and objects at railway stations and around important facilities.

Police executive says that it is necessary to put (security) network all over the society in order to prevent terrorist attacs in an early stage, as in the recent years, terrorist attacs have been targeting transportation facilities, tourist sites, venues of events and department stores.
Similar surveillance groups have been set up in the field of responsibility of 19 police stations by the end of March. Until July, surveillance groups of citizens shall be set up at 96 police stations.

Experts wanted

The security surveillance in Tokyo will be lax due to the fact that half of the 3000 riot policemen will be sent to the venue of the Summit. For this reason, an ad hoc-riot squad consisting of young policemen who usually work in the so-called police boxes ("koban") will be also deployed in Tokyo. This ad hoc-riot squad has not been gathered since the first visit by President Bush in 2002, so they lack experience. Therefore, retired riot policemen who have experienced the students' movements against the Japan-US Security Treaty back in the 1950s/60s have been hired as advisors since the end of 2007. They teach the fundament of security to the young policemen, such as how to use protection shields, truncheons, etc. and how to build a formation against the mob. One of the advisors says: "There are lots of young men who lack physical force and knowledge. We have to prepare them to stand against the mob which will be hostile towards the police."

Fighting excercise

Last year in Heiligendamm, some parts of the antiglobalization groups became violent and over 1000 people were detained. In Japan, heavy riots with flying Molotov cocktails have occured in the mid-1980s for the last time. Experienced policemen prepare the younger ones mentally for the operation and give excercises how to ward off burning Molotov cocktails with protection shields and to fight back with tear-gas grenades.

Just shortly before the riot squad of the Tokyo Police will be sent to Hokkaido, a final excercise involving 1000 persons - including the Security Service - will be held in early May.

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