Nation ups alert; Japan runners in Boston said safe

Kyodo

The government was closely monitoring developments Tuesday following the deadly explosions during the Boston Marathon, with police stepping up security at key locations in major cities around Japan.

“Our country is watching the situation with keen interest,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.

According to the Boston Marathon organizer’s website, 238 Japanese participated in the race, of whom 179 crossed the finish line.

Japanese travel agencies that organized tours for the marathon said their clients have been confirmed safe so far.

Club Tourism said all 16 of its customers were all right, while Canadian Network Inc. said 27 members of its tour were confirmed safe.

Tokyo resident Ichio Yamada, 67, participated in the Boston Marathon for the 22th consecutive time.

“Runners enjoyed good weather conditions for the first time in a decade, but it is a shame that things turned out like this,” Yamada said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took up the incident in the Diet in the morning.

“Police have stepped up security at key (domestic) facilities and enforced thorough security at locations where many people congregate,” Abe said.

The National Police Agency ordered police officers to tighten security at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and U.S. military bases nationwide, as well as nuclear power stations, airports, stations and other important facilities.

“The entire international community should send a firm message” in response to the blasts, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told a news conference.

Meanwhile, organizers of marathon events in Japan said that they will feel a pressing need to enhance safety measures when they hold their next marathon, although some said there are limits to what can be done.

“There will always be an unexpected number of people who are not running the marathon cramming the area round the finish line,” said Muneaki Nishikage, a senior official organizing the Kobe Marathon to be held in November. “We can only keep on the alert and look out for suspicious items with as many staff members as possible.”

Three people, including an 8-year-old, were killed and more than 100 were hurt in the Boston blasts.