December 4, 2019 / 8:00 AM / 12 days ago

'Anti-terrorism drills' with dogs conducted ahead of Tokyo 2020 Games

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese officials undertook ‘anti-terrorism’ drills involving dogs trained to detect suspicious items, including explosives, at Tokyo Station on Wednesday as they ramp up security preparations for next year’s Olympic Games.

FILE PHOTO: Summer sunshine is seen through Olympic rings displayed at Nihonbashi district in Tokyo, Japan August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

During the drill, specially trained Labrador and Beagle dogs sniffed commuters near ticket barriers as officials attempt to balance the need for security whilst not causing too much disruption to the capital’s busy transport system.

Nearly 20 million people use public transport daily in the greater Tokyo area, home to more than 35 million people.

An estimated 600,000 additional people are expected to come to the city during Games’ time, meaning both security and efficient transport are concerns for local officials.

Wednesday’s drills follow similar test conducted at another Tokyo subway station in March.

At separate tests, body scanners have also been introduced to detect hazardous objects hidden in clothing, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry (MLIT).

“This is a new project conducted for Tokyo 2020,” the ministry’s railway chief Hidenoby Nomoto told reporters on Wednesday.

“Considering the result of this experiment test, we would like to analyze the fluidity of travelers, or how the customers felt.”

Most of the commuters observing the drills on Wednesday were pleased with the extra security measures.

“They do these kinds of security in airports (so) I think it’s a nice thing to do for safety,” said Tokyo resident Sayaka Ito.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics run from July 24 - Aug. 9.

Reporting by Akira Tomoshige and Shiori Ozawa; writing by Jack Tarrant; editing by Michael Perry

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