British School in Tokyo returns to normal a day after bomb threat

by

Staff Writer

An international school in Tokyo that was forced to evacuate hundreds of its students on Thursday following a bomb threat returned to routine on Friday after police dismissed the threat as a hoax.

The Metropolitan Police Department on Friday said no device was found in a search of The British School in the capital’s Shibuya Ward, which received a phoned in threat on Thursday. The caller appeared to be male and the message was delivered in a “non-Japanese” language, as officials described it.

An MPD spokeswoman told The Japan Times police investigated the call on suspicion of interference with a business — or criminal obstruction of the school’s normal activities.

The threat prompted the evacuation of at least 800 people from the school and other buildings nearby. The British School in Tokyo has over 880 students at its two campuses in Shibuya.

On Friday, things appeared to return to normal.

“We came in this morning and everyone was there,” one of the parents who went to pick up their child Thursday told The Japan Times.

The individual, who did not want to be identified, said the school contacted families on Thursday evening and informed them that the classes would take place as usual Friday.

It also warned them that “there might be more of security presence.”

The person praised the school’s preparedness for such an incident.

“I was really surprised how calm and organized it was,” the parent said, adding that the evacuation appeared to take only about 10 minutes.

The individual said the teachers seemed to be “very well prepared and very organized” and kept the situation under control.

The school sent out a more detailed explanation of what happened by email and in the evening parents were told that they could come to collect the belongings their children had left, said the individual who spoke to The Japan Times.

The individual said the threat did not scare the children and caused no panic, adding that a fire drill conducted at the premises a week earlier might have helped the evacuation go smoothly, as it was “fresh in everybody’s minds.”

The British School in Tokyo was not available for comment when contacted by a reporter on Friday.

The threat came amid a wave of false bomb threats that resulted in more than 20 schools being closed across Europe. A Russian group claimed responsibility for other threats and there were inevitable suspicions that it might have been involved in the scare in Tokyo.

It is believed that as many as 14 schools in Britain, six in Paris and at least three schools in Amsterdam received similar phone calls.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that someone posting on Twitter account Evacuators 2k16 claimed to be behind the threats targeted at schools in Britain a week earlier, saying they were intended to cause “mayhem.”

The callers in the earlier incidents reportedly threatened to turn up at schools armed with bombs and guns.

On its Twitter profile @Ev4cuati0nSquad the group wrote: “We are 6 individuals based internationally.”

The profile was later suspended, but the threats continued.

The Daily Mail separately reported that a 14-year-old boy has been arrested for an alleged hoax threat, but this is thought to be unrelated to the warnings served up to schools in U.K. and elsewhere.

The boy was said to have called in a threat from a public phone. The Daily Mail said police detained boy after a call to a school in the city of Birmingham, which was traced to a public phone box. Security camera video was used to identify the suspect, but investigators said the arrest was not in connection with the wider sweep of hoaxes.