RECIFE, BRAZIL – The Foreign Ministry is taking extra measures to ensure the safety of Japanese soccer fans who are visiting the Brazilian city of Recife, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, to see Japan’s team open its World Cup campaign Saturday night.
Some 7,000 fans from Japan are expected to attend the Samurai Blue’s match against Cote d’Ivoire at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, in northeastern Brazil. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 p.m.
Since the stadium is a considerable distance from the city’s main hub, fans will be returning to their hotels and other lodgings after midnight.
Recife is Brazil’s fifth-biggest city and has a population of roughly 3.7 million. It is one of at least a dozen Brazilian cities reportedly on a list of the world’s top 50 murder rates in urban centers.
According to Hitomi Sekiguchi, head of the Japanese Embassy’s liaison office in Recife, staff will be on 24-hour standby to respond to emergency calls, with officials stationed inside and outside the stadium to help Japanese citizens. “We plan to be proactive in reaching out, but we also hope Japanese spectators feel comfortable reaching out to us,” Sekiguchi said.
Japanese arriving at the local airport on Friday were greeted by embassy staff who handed out pamphlets listing contact numbers and subway maps.
At least one Japanese tourist has already been robbed. The Japanese Consulate General in Sao Paulo said Friday that a man who arrived Thursday for the World Cup had a bag containing match tickets and cash stolen. His identity wasn’t released.
According to the consulate general, someone lifted the man’s bag after he momentarily left it unattended at a coffee shop in the airport while greeting a newly arrived friend on Thursday night. The bag held three match tickets, 8,000 Brazilian real (about ¥367,000) and other belongings.
The consulate general has warned Japanese travelers to keep all personal belongings close at hand and to avoid carrying large sums of cash.