Shibuya preps for Halloween throng with multilingual cops and automated speakers

Kyodo, Staff Report

With Halloween celebrations becoming more popular in Japan, the Metropolitan Police Department will introduce a multilingual system this year to guide the costumed mobs through Tokyo’s Shibuya district, the most congested venue.

Starting Oct. 27, the police will provide automated voice guidance using speakers until Oct. 31, authorities said Friday. The system is also designed to give instructions in emergencies.

In addition, English-speaking officers will be deployed around the tourist-magnet neighborhood, which is becoming the most popular Halloween destination in Tokyo.

Some of the streets near Shibuya Station will be partially closed to traffic during the period.

Last year, to avoid turmoil near the station, the MPD for the first time dedicated two nearby streets to pedestrians from Friday through Monday. Roughly 90 events were held in Shibuya on Halloween night last year.

Halloween in Japan is mostly an excuse for people to dress in costumes and party, while giving companies much-needed seasonal marketing opportunities to hawk Halloween-themed merchandise.

Public relations officers for the riot squad have also become a fixture at the famous intersection outside Shibuya Station in recent years. Nicknamed “DJ Cops,” the officers are praised for using humor to keep the masses under control.