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Why I commute by motorcycle, pt. VI

Reuters has more on the Tokyo Metro's response to yesterday's London terror attacks:

The Tokyo Metro subway system said it was increasing patrols of its stations and had removed all garbage cans as a precaution.

...Japan is especially worried about its transport system, used by hordes of workers who pour into Tokyo from surrounding suburbs each day.

More than 590 million commuters passed through Shinjuku Station, Tokyo's busiest, in 2000 — roughly 1.6 million a day.

But security experts said that, try as Japan might, it was impossible to protect against every eventuality, noting that legal limits on surveillance activities made gathering detailed intelligence more difficult than in some other countries.

"Japan has sent its military to Iraq, the same as England and as Spain, which were both hit, so there's certainly a motive," said Jun Yamazaki, Japan unit president of risk consultancy Control Risks Group.

"But the only way to prevent absolutely everything would be to become a police state."
This post is the sixth in a series about the inconveniences and risks of commuting by train in Japan; previous entries are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I hope the current situation never yields a candidate for Part VII.

AFP has more on how subways are fast becoming the preferred target of terrorists.


Anonymous said...

I can see how Tokyo would be a prime target for terrorists. It is a major financial, banking, and technology center. I still remember the Sarin attacks in the subways -- I hope never to see something like that again.

What always gets me is how local media here in Chicago react to any terrorist attack with "Could it happen here?" fear-mongering. They did it again yesterday, with breathless reports on the Chicago subway, Sears Tower, etc. As if nothing is of interest to Chicago audiences unless it directly affects them, makes them feel more important and under greater threat, than we likely are.

Truth be told, Chicago is a 'B-List' terror target. No major bank is headquartered here. There are no major international gatherings of dignitaries as there is every day in NYC and London. Our financial markets are important, but not unique: the business they conduct can be electronically transferred to an outside location in seconds. No matter: let's not leave Chicagoans feeling irrelevant.

A lot of this sort of speculation seems self-indulgent to me. What should concern my fellow Chicagoans is the response of the CTA president while being queried better security on the city's subway, elevated and bus routes. His response? (To paraphrase) "It's not like we can send people through metal detectors!" It's not being thought out by them - they don't consider it a threat, in spite of the fact that the closest thing we had to a subway terrorist attack was a white supremicist wacko who was able to stow cyanide gas in an abandoned storage room near one of the city's main tourist and commuter subway stations. I'd sooner place my faith in the Fire Department to rescue me from an attacked train than I would the CTA preventing such an attack in the first place. 

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