- Title: JAPAN/FILE: Tokyo on high-alert ahead of G8 summit in Japan
- Date: 3rd July 2008
- Summary: (ASIA) TOKYO, JAPAN (RECENT) (REUTERS) VIEW FROM DEPARTMENT STORE TO G8 PROTESTERS ON STREET POLICEMEN CONTROLLING PROTESTERS POLICEMEN IN RIOT GEAR POLICE AND PROTESTERS CLASHING
- Embargoed: 18th July 2008 13:00
- Reuters ID: LVABHCOMF81K0G5FIHZYLWL11ZKF
- Story Text: Japanese police and military join forces in an effort to protect the G8 summit venue and the nation's capital from terrorists and protesters.
Japan is beefing up security nationwide ahead of next week's Group-of-Eight (G8) summit in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.
Besides the 21,000 police officers deployed in Tokyo and another 20,000 near the summit venue, the self-defence forces, the nation's de-facto military, is also joining the police anti-terrorism operation in an unprecedented joint security effort.
In downtown Tokyo, police officers are virtually in every corner, stopping suspicious cars and looking out for any chemical or explosive objects.
Police are also stepping up their preparedness to deal with summit protesters after the latest clash in Tokyo led to the arrest of eight people on Sunday (June 29).
Crisis management expert Atsuyuki Sassa says that the level of security for this summit is unprecedented for Japan.
"Aegis vessels will be patrolling at sea on the lookout for possible missile attacks or anything that could approach from the sea, such as (activist group) Sea Shepherd. Furthermore, the Japanese air force's early warning aircraft, called AWACS, will be flying in the area 24-7. This level of security is unprecedented," said Sassa, a former director of Japanese Cabinet's National Security Secretariat.
Sassa added that Japan's implementing the lessons learned from Britain's experience in 2005.
"In 2005, Great Britain hosted the Gleneagles (G8 summit in Gleneagles) summit in the countryside. The security level at the venue was fine, but what happened was terrorists bombed the subway system in London. The Japanese government is learning a lesson from them, and is beefing up security in Tokyo by mobilizing 21,000 policemen in the metropolitan area alone,"
Ever since the late 1990s, world summits have been a magnet for anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation protesters trying to disrupt meetings.
For the summit at Lake Toya, about 760 kilometres (470 miles) north of Tokyo, domestic and international NGOs such as Oxfam plan to protest on a range of topics, including globalisation, the food crisis and wars.
Protests are expected near the summit venue, where they are expected to gather in three camp sites.
But tight security and the sheer cost of travel to the vicinity of the remote summit site could dampen turnout.
Human rights lawyers have said Japanese immigration authorities are making it tough for some activists to get visas by complicating the application process, and media reports said some activists were detained for hours at immigration.
In last year's G8 summit at Heiligendamm in Germany, an estimated 30,000 protesters flocked to the area and entered a restricted zone set up for the summit, as well as blocking land routes into the area.
At Lake Toya, leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States will discuss soaring food and oil prices, along with climate change and the African development. Japan has also invited eight other nations, including Brazil, China and India, to hold talks on climate changes on the sidelines.
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