Yokohama on high alert ahead of APEC meethttp://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101106002718.htm
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(Nov. 7, 2010)
Tension was building in and around Yokohama's Minato-Mirai area Saturday, the day before a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum was to begin at a convention center in the district.
The recent leaks of internal documents and video footage from domestic authorities were apparently adding to the strained atmosphere.
"The situation is unstable, but we're determined to prevent demonstrations by extremists and acts of terrorism [during the APEC meeting]," a National Police Agency official said.
The APEC gathering in Yokohama is the first to be hosted in a major Japanese city in 15 years, following the 1995 APEC meeting in Osaka.
Police authorities are seeking to safeguard the venue in ways that will pay due consideration to residents, corporations and others there. The Minato-Mirai area contains about 7,300 residents and 1,250 companies, as well as an average of 160,000 tourists on holidays.
The series of leaks--involving internal documents on international terrorism from the Metropolitan Police Department and video footage of collisions between a Chinese fishing boat and Japan Coast Guard vessels off the Senkaku Islands--has aroused concern about security in and around the venue.
There has also been diplomatic tension with China and Russia recently.
"Security for this event is putting Japanese police to the test," NPA Commissioner General Takaharu Ando said at a regular press conference Thursday.
About the information leak just before the APEC meetings, Ando said, "We'll take all possible action, with an eye for every possible incident."
The leaked information about international terrorism contained a list of police officers in charge of security at the Group of Eight summit meeting held in Toyakocho, Hokkaido, in 2008.
A senior NPA official said: "It was old data, but some security techniques were revealed. I can't rule out a negative impact."
Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to come to Japan to attend the APEC leaders' meeting from Nov. 13, in the midst of mounting tension between Japan and China in the wake of the Senkaku incident in September.
Police believe right-wing groups may hold protest rallies against Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who visited one of the islands in the northern territories on Nov. 1. The situation surrounding the two leaders is unpredictable.The NPA has assigned about 21,000 police officers
--the same level as deployed for the Toyako Summit--mainly from the Kanagawa prefectural police.About 800 meters of fencing, three meters high, was placed in front of Pacifico Yokohama
, where the meetings will be held, on Friday to prevent unauthorized people from entering the building.
At the same time, police and local governments were trying to minimize the negative impact on residents and commercial areas in the Minato-Mirai district.
During the Toyako summit meeting, the area in a radius of 1.5 kilometers from the venue was off-limits to the public. This time, only the premises of Pacifico Yokohama are off-limits.
Because subways and most stores in the district will be open as usual during the APEC meet, areas around the venue on the weekend when the summit meeting will be held will likely be crowded with tourists.To reduce the burden on residents of frequent questioning by police officers
, the Yokohama city government issued photo IDs to all residents of primary school age and older. This is an unprecedented experiment for an international conference, but the city government said about 90 percent of residents had completed procedures to receive an ID card.
Despite such efforts, some local residents have voiced discontent.
A 44-year-old man living in a high-rise condominium about 200 meters from Pacifico Yokohama said: "The number of police officers has increased day by day. Each time I come home, my car is stopped [by police]."