National

Security to be tightened in central Tokyo in preparation for Reiwa Era celebrations

Kyodo

Thousands of police officers will be deployed next week to enhance security in central Tokyo, as areas surrounding the Imperial Palace are expected to overflow with people celebrating the beginning of the new era on May 1.

Extra security measures to tackle potential threats and accidents will be implemented during Emperor Akihito’s abdication on April 30 through the ascension of Crown Prince Naruhito on May 1.

“We will endeavor to create a peaceful environment for the Imperial ceremonies,” Metropolitan Police Chief Masamitsu Miura told a meeting Wednesday. “We will not allow troublesome incidents to affect (them).”

Ceremonies for the abdication and the ascension will take place at the palace during the two days, with well-wishers allowed entry to congratulate the new Emperor on May 4.

Extra security measures around the palace on the two days and May 4 will include the dispatch of the Emergency Response Team and a force for handling drones. The police will also increase car inspections and searches for suspicious objects.

With many restaurants in the capital planning countdown events from April 30 to May 1 to celebrate the change of the era, large crowds are expected to flock to the Shibuya shopping and entertainment district, similar to those seen at Halloween and New Year’s.

The beginning of the Reiwa Era is expected to be quite different from Emperor Akihito’s ascension and the start of the Heisei Era more than 30 years ago, when the country was mourning the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

“Unlike the somber mood and attire seen during the beginning of the Heisei Era, there is a possibility that things may become disorderly,” a police official said.

In order to prevent potential accidents, the police will restrict access to the plaza in front of the Imperial Palace from 6 p.m. on April 30 until 5 a.m. the next day. However, a large number of people are expected to line the streets to watch Crown Prince Naruhito as he goes to the Imperial Palace from the Akasaka Estate.