East Japan Railway Co will introduce a system that can directly send to police images from its video surveillance cameras at stations in the event of an emergency, as Tokyo strengthens antiterrorism measures in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
In the run-up to the Summer Games, JR East said it will also increase the number of security cameras at stations in the Japanese capital and surrounding areas, and set up a special department that will be tasked with monitoring images from them around the clock.
As of July next year, when the Olympics open, a total of about 22,000 security cameras will be installed near ticket gates and on platforms at around 1,200 stations as part of efforts to ensure public safety, the company said.
Concerns about attacks on public transportation infrastructure have grown since incidents aboard bullet trains in recent years.
In 2015, a self-immolation on a shinkansen bullet train killed an unrelated passenger and injured 26, and last year a man with a knife killed one passenger and hurt two others.
JR East has decided to newly equip 8,300 local train cars operating in the greater Tokyo area and 200 shinkansen bullet train cars with security cameras.
It also plans to install security cameras in all train cars to be manufactured in the future.
In some countries, hand luggage inspections of train commuters are common, but Japan does not conduct them.
There has been strong opposition among railway companies due to the inconvenience to passengers and the difficulty of finding space for such checks in stations.
On Monday, the transport ministry started an experiment at Tokyo Metro’s Kasumigaseki Station in the capital’s government district, using a body scanner at one or two of the ticket gates to monitor objects under clothing.
The experiment for seven hours per day, including rush hours, through Thursday, is aimed at helping the ministry identify potential problems and consider feasibility.
Around 150,000 passengers per day use Kasumigaseki Station, which was attacked by the Aum Shinrikyo cult with nerve gas in 1995.