• Kyodo

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More than 90 percent of the nation’s private security companies are suffering personnel shortages, a police survey showed Thursday, fueling concern about possible shortfalls in staff for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

To address the issue, the National Police Agency said it is considering revising legal regulations and introducing an online training system for security guards, to reduce the hurdles for companies looking to hire staff.

The number of security firms and guards has remained nearly flat in the last few years, standing at around 9,400 and 540,000, respectively, as of the end of 2016.

In the survey conducted between September and November last year, which received responses from 485 companies, 96.5 percent reported they were in need of traffic guards at construction and other sites.

Among other categories where firms reported shortages, 94.5 percent cited a need for crowd control officers; 83.4 percent needed more airport security guards, including baggage inspection officers; and 81.9 percent required more building security personnel.

As for causes of the staffing shortages, 79.3 percent cited low wages as a major obstacle, 78.6 percent the aging of the population and a dearth in the availability of new workers, and 57.1 percent blamed growing demand for such workers.

The survey showed 92.8 percent of companies had bolstered recruitment efforts and 77.6 percent said they raised wages or improved other conditions to cope with labor shortages.

Only 3.3 percent said they had improved efficiency by introducing robotic solutions and other advanced information and communication technologies to tackle shortfalls.

A mere 7.6 percent of respondents said they introduced technologies such as security cameras and biometric authentication.

A lack of knowledge about recent advances and costs were cited as reasons that prevented security companies from utilizing high-tech solutions, according to the survey.

Hachiro Okonogi, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, told a news conference Thursday, “In order for security services to further contribute to a safe and secure society, we will instruct the police to collaborate with industry bodies and facilitate necessary measures.”