Stepping up Shinkansen security: What can be done

Japan needs to step up security and safety measures for their Shinkansen. Source: Shutterstock.

JAPAN’S transport ministry has called on train operators to step up security in the wake of a stabbing attack onboard.

On June 9, 2018, a man was killed and two women injured in a random cleaver attack on a crowded Shinkansen (bullet train).

The knife-wielding man, 22-year-old Ichiro Kojima, had reportedly stood up from his seat on the crowded Osaka-bound Shinkansen and began stabbing people. He first assaulted two women before fatally slashing 38-year-old Kotaro Umeda when the latter tried to protect them.

The two women, aged 26 and 27, were taken to hospital with injuries to their head and shoulders.

The attack occurred in the number 12 car of the 16-car Nozomi 265, the day’s last train bound for Osaka. Kyodo News quoted JR Central as saying that there were around 880 passengers at the time.

Japan’s bullet train Nozomi 265 is seen after the train made a stop due to the stabbing attack. Source: AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / Japan OUT

Japan is known to have a lot of the etiquette guidelines for riding trains and Japan’s railway companies hold themselves to an exceptionally high standard. But the Shinkansen’s security has been an ongoing debate.

For example, while Japan’s airports are well equipped with topnotch technology and often lauded for efficiency, there seems to be a lack of security measures for its Shinkansen.

Last Saturday’s incident was not the first.

In 2015, a 71-year-old man doused himself in oil and set himself ablaze in an act of suicide on a Shinkansen. The incident claimed the life of a woman passenger and resulted in smoke inhalation injuries in 26 other passengers.

It’s high time Japan’s Shinkansen security and safety gets more attention. Source: Shutterstock.

With the highly anticipated 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo looming and with the Japanese government expecting up to 40 million foreign visitors that year, here are some things that can be done to improve Shinkansen security and safety:

  • Increase station patrols.
  • Increase in-train patrols.
  • Install more security cameras.
  • Create checkpoints at stations.
  • Install metal detectors.
  • Perform baggage checks/inspections.