Police to get submachineguns to fight terrorism

Police in 28 prefectures will be issued with 1,379 submachineguns by the end of March to combat terrorism, the National Police Agency said Friday.

It will be the first time conventional police will be equipped with such weapons.

To date, special antiterrorism units had been the only forces equipped with submachineguns. They are used by the 200-member Special Assault Team, which has personnel in Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, along with Kanagawa, Chiba, Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures, the NPA said.

The agency said riot police guarding U.S. bases and nuclear plants in the 28 prefectures will be equipped with the guns. Associated expenditures are included in the NPA’s 9.04 billion yen request for appropriations in a supplementary budget for this fiscal year.

Of the requested sum, 7.54 billion yen will be earmarked for emergency measures to fight terrorism. The agency said it plans to procure more flak jackets, bulletproof helmets and armored vehicles with the money.

The NPA will also establish special units to combat terrorism involving nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in six prefectures by the end of March, NPA officials said.

Similar units have been set up in Tokyo and Osaka, but new teams will be based at prefectural police headquarters in Hokkaido, Miyagi, Kanagawa, Aichi, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures.

The units in the eight prefectures will be equipped with detectors for biological weapons for the first time, the NPA said.

Simplified detectors for such weapons will also be provided to conventional forces in all 28 prefectures, which will be armed with submachineguns.

In addition, the agency will purchase bomb detectors and high-performance explosive ordnance disposal devices. , they said.