A year and a half after a vicious attack left seven people dead in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, a neighborhood association activated 16 outdoor surveillance cameras Tuesday in an effort to restore the neighborhood’s reputation.

“Akiba,” as the district is known to its fans, is a mecca of electronic gadgets and “otaku” (geek) culture.

“We hope the cameras will deter crimes. And we want to assure the public that Akihabara has become a safe place,” Chiyoda Ward spokesman Kazuhisa Yamaguchi said.

The Kanda Suehiro association held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Shohei Elementary School. Some of the cameras are installed on street lights around the school.

The video feeds will be monitored by members of the neighborhood association.

None of the 16 cameras covers the site of the rampage, which took place on one of Akihabara’s main streets. Other neighborhood associations are planning to set up an additional 34 surveillance cameras by the end of March to monitor major streets, Yamaguchi said.

Tomohiro Kato, 25, stands accused of running down pedestrians with a truck on June 8, 2008, before getting out of the vehicle and stabbing people at a busy intersection, killing seven in total.

At the time of the attack, the streets were closed to vehicles to allow pedestrians free access. Since then, the streets have not been blocked off.

Kato’s trial at the Tokyo District Court starts Thursday.

Chiyoda Ward and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will share the cost — about ¥30 million — of the 50 surveillance cameras with neighborhood associations, Yamaguchi said.

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