• Jiji


Railway operators and police in Japan are ramping up patrols and exercises after an attack on a train in Tokyo a month ago.

Train and bus operators are finding difficulties implementing effective measures to prevent indiscriminate attacks targeting passengers or crew members. One expert said that it is difficult to take "large-scale measures, such as baggage inspections."

The attack a month ago, which occurred on a train on the Keio Line of railway operator Keio Corp. while it was traveling in Chofu, Tokyo, injured 17 passengers. One of the victims, a 72-year-old man, had been left in critical condition after being stabbed in the chest. The man’s condition later improved.

In the Oct. 31 attack, the 25-year-old suspect, Kyota Hattori, also sprinkled oil on the train and set it alight. He was arrested on the spot on suspicion of attempted murder and was served a fresh arrest warrant Nov. 22 for alleged arson.

Officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Fukagawa Police Station in the capital’s Koto Ward were seen standing in Tokyo Metro Co.’s Monzen-nakacho Station last week, watching over passengers bustling past ticket gates.

After the Keio train incident, the police station has been dispatching uniformed officers to stations in areas under its jurisdiction to present a visible security presence.

"I'm often out with my kids, so the police measure makes me feel secure," a woman in her 30s said.

The MPD instructed related sections Nov. 1 to conduct joint exercises with railway firms to deal with possible train attacks. So far, exercises for apprehending an attacker armed with a knife or evacuating passengers in the event of such an attack have been conducted with Tobu Railway Co. and Odakyu Bus Co., a unit of Odakyu Electric Railway Co.

Keio Corp. has set up a special division aimed at bolstering in-train security while boosting patrols by staff employees at all of its train stations.

Many railway operators are planning to equip their train cars with security cameras to detect in-car incidents in real time and enable swift responses in cooperation with police and other authorities.

"One issue is that the locations of emergency buttons and other in-train safety equipment differ from one train operator to another," said Seiji Abe, professor of transport policy at Kansai University.

He called for the emergency button locations to be unified to make it easier for passengers to respond to emergencies. Abe also stressed the importance of people being well informed about how to use the buttons.

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