Japan to focus on transport security after deadly incident

July 02, 2015 10:26
Police officers stand guard at a rail station in Japan after a deadly incident on a bullet train on Tuesday, when a man set himself on fire, killing himself and one other person. Photo: Reuters

The deadly incident on a bullet train in Japan on June 30, when a 71-year-old man set himself on fire, killing himself and one other person, could prompt authorities to tighten security on the high-speed rail transport network.

On Wednesday, Japanese transport minister Akihiro Ohta held an emergency meeting with executives of Japan’s five main rail companies.

"As well as terrorism, we need to focus on a wide range of safety measures, including the safety of the trains, strengthening security and preventing people boarding with dangerous objects," Ohta said, according to Bloomberg News.

Acts of terrorism are not new to Japan's railways. In 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult carried out a sarin-gas attack on Tokyo’s subway that killed 12 people and sickened thousands, the report noted.

In Tuesday's incident, a man identified as Haruo Hayashizaki died after drenching himself in fuel and igniting it with a lighter on a train bound for Osaka.

The fumes from the blaze killed a woman in her 50s and injured more than 20 others.

"This should be the trigger for Japan to develop measures that consider the possibility of the shinkansen becoming a terrorist target," Osamu Ohkoshi, president of Ohkoshi Security Consultants, a Tokyo-based crisis management company, told Bloomberg.

"If the fire in the front car hadn’t been put out, it could have become a fireball that spread throughout the entire train."

Following the June 30 incident, authorities could consider implementing proposals outlined by the transport ministry earlier this year.

The proposals call for installation of cameras to track suspicious people at stations, chemical and biological agent sensors, and bomb detection devices at ticket gates.

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