Tokyo police launch counterterror unit at Haneda Airport

JIJI

Tokyo police launched an counterterrorism unit Thursday to deal with potential hijackings and other attacks at Tokyo International Airport in Haneda.

The Metropolitan Police Department tightened security after the airport expanded its international flights by about 50 percent last month to about 90,000 per year. That’s expected to rise further before the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

MPD Superintendent-General Naoyoshi Takatsuna said at a ceremony that the elite unit’s ability to guard one of the gateways to Japan will be tested later this month, when U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Japan.

“I hope you will work hard as the last fortress for the country’s air security in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics,” Tokyo’s police chief told members of the unit.

In April 2012, the MPD established a division just for guarding Haneda Airport. The latest move bolstered a division belonging to the sixth riot police and put it under direct control of the MPD’s security division.

The anti-terror unit consists of 67 riot officers with outstanding skills who can cope with explosives and crimes involving firearms. They will conduct patrols in the airport on a round-the-clock basis and receive reinforced counterterrorism training.