OSAKA – Unusually tight security and large-scale traffic regulations for the two-day Group of 20 summit in Osaka is affecting the lives of residents and tourists.
The city remained on high alert on the summit’s first day on Friday. A helicopter circled over the Intex Osaka convention center, the main venue of the summit on Sakishima, a man-made island in Suminoe Ward, and numerous police officers were deployed around the site.
Highways heading to Sakishima were closed early Thursday morning and all vehicles near it were inspected by police.
“Police officers ask me to show my ID card every time I go outside,” said a man in his 30s who lives on Sakishima. “I understand it can’t be helped, but it’s bothersome.”
Koichi Kuraoka, who lives near the venue, said the parking lot near his apartment was closed due to the summit so he moved his car to a different one in the vicinity.
“I admit it is inconvenient but I’ve given up,” said a 65-year-old company employee.
The city also partially halted garbage collection for the duration of the summit.
“Some residents don’t know that garbage collecting trucks are not coming,” said Kaoru Yamane, 55, who lives near Intex Osaka. “I see trash scattered around.”
On Friday morning outside Osaka Station, people were lining up at bus stops as repeated announcements reported that the timetables had been disrupted due to the G20 summit.
“We don’t know where traffic regulations are imposed. Every time there is a restriction, we have to think of another route,” said an official of a bus operator.
Tourists in Osaka were also feeling the impact of the heavy security.
The city elevated security to its highest level on Thursday, when leaders from around the world arrived for the summit.
Kansai International Airport conducted baggage checks at the entrance of the terminals.
A 34-year-old Chinese tourist who came to the airport to catch a flight out of Osaka, said he arrived an hour later than planned because of train delays and security measures.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, about 2 km from Intex Osaka, also conducted baggage inspections at its entrance.
“We gave up going there after seeing the long line,” said a 40-year-old from Chuo Ward. He said he took the day off from work to spend time with his 6-year-old son because his elementary school was closed for the summit.