With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, Tokyo is trying to eliminate blind spots in security linked to high-rise condominiums on the waterfront, where many of the events will be held.
A number of condos that are 50 or more stories high overlook Tokyo Bay. Equipped with auto-lock systems and surveillance cameras, the buildings are fortified against trespassing. But the same systems could obstruct law enforcement officers in need of emergency access.
“There’s a risk that criminals could obtain access to the buildings,” said Tetsuya Katsuta, deputy head of Tsukishima Police Station. “By taking advantage of the security systems, they could set up a hideout inside.”
The police station covers a section of the bay area in Chuo Ward where the athletes’ village will be built.
Twenty-five luxury condos stand close together in the district. Each is over 100 meters tall. Multiple auto-lock doors are required to gain access to the units, and some elevators can only access certain floors, officers at the police station say.
Fearing that terrorists could use the high security to their advantage, the Metropolitan Police Department took a new step in April by negotiating an agreement with a residents’ association to allow patrols in one of the buildings.
MPD officers can now unlock doors and elevators at Kachidoki The Tower, a 53-story condominium with 1,400 households.
On one afternoon in early July, it organized an event to promote traffic safety at the building. Officers, including one dressed up as the MPD mascot, greeted residents at the entrance and handed out safety promotion kits.
“I was surprised when I spotted police officers in the building for the first time,” said a 41-year-old resident who was returning with her child. “But now I feel safe because they patrol carefully.”
Eiichiro Yamauchi, 73, who heads the residents’ association, said criminals will be “scared away” by the patrols.
Mitsui Fudosan Residential Service Co., which manages the building, is cooperating with the security measure.
“It’s a model case of managing condominium buildings, and it helps us to improve our efforts to provide residents secure and safe living,” a Mitsui Fudosan official said.
But the Kachidoki condo is just the first of many buildings on the MPD’s list.
“We need to let as many people as possible know about this arrangement and take similar steps at other buildings as well,” a senior officer at Tsukishima Police Station said.
Yoshiaki Sato, head of the station, said it will seek further cooperation with residents and businesses “to make the luxurious condo town even more excellent.”
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