Authorities at Naha airport in Japan’s Okinawa Island were forced to delay or cancel several flights on Monday following a security scare involving some Chinese transit passengers, reports say.
The incident is said to have happened as three Chinese women who were traveling from Ishigaki to Tokyo had wandered off into areas that were out of bounds for transit passengers.
Instead of waiting in the transit zone, the women went to the first floor of the Naha airport to look for duty-free shops, Apple Daily reported, citing Japanese media.
The women were said to have later managed to make it to the departures area on the second floor, breaking all security rules.
Following the security breach, the airport police detained the women to conduct an investigation.
Meanwhile, to be on the safe side, authorities decided to undertake fresh security checks on all the passengers in transit lounges, the report said.
The fresh checks and other measures led to five flights being canceled and 23 others being delayed, according to the report. Most of the flights were said to have been delayed for 2-3 hours.
The flight which was supposed to carry the three Chinese women to Tokyo’s Haneda airport took off only after 7 pm, against the scheduled departure time of 4.45 pm, the report said.
The women didn’t make it to the flight as they were still under detention.
While there were some signs written in Chinese at the airport, the women were said to have taken a wrong turn from the transit area, leading to the whole security scare.
The flight delays and cancellations, which are said to have affected more than 6,000 passengers, has triggered an uproar in Japan.
Some netizens said the Japanese government should ask China to compensate for economic loss resulting from flight disruptions.
The yen’s slide against the renminbi and eased visa-issuance rules have led to a surge in Chinese visitors to Japan in the recent past.
The number totaled 2.5 million in 2014, up 83 percent from the previous year. Chinese tourist volume to Japan is now said to be next only to that of Taiwan and South Korea.
In January this year, Chinese visitor numbers to Japan is said to have gone up by 45 percent compared to the same month last year.
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