National

Anti-terrorism squad to be deployed at Tokyo fireworks display

Kyodo

A police anti-terrorism squad will be deployed at the annual Sumida River fireworks festival in Tokyo this weekend amid heightened security concerns in the wake of terrorist attacks overseas, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The festival, scheduled for Saturday, usually draws over 900,000 spectators.

The Emergency Response Team (ERT) is equipped with submachine guns and other firearms, and is on standby around the clock.

The ERT is a special unit designed to respond quickly to terrorist attacks.

The unit was launched in April 2015 to help beef up security of soft targets. The main mission of the ERT is to launch the initial response against armed terrorists who strike multiple targets while on the move.

The team was deployed during the Tokyo Marathon in February.

Public places such as theaters and event venues have become targets of terrorist attacks overseas, with the Paris attacks last November leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Other recent terrorist attacks on soft targets include a cafe in Dhaka in which 20 people, including seven Japanese, were killed, and an incident in Nice, southern France, where an armed man drove a truck into a crowd gathered to watch fireworks in mid-July, leaving over 80 people dead.