Police on full alert in Tokyo ahead of transition to Reiwa era

Riot police will be sent to Tokyo's Shibuya area, a popular gathering spot, as the Japanese prepare to celebrate the new era. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO (YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police will be on full alert in Tokyo ahead of the festive transition from the Heisei era to Reiwa, with several thousand officers to be dispatched on security duty over the coming days.

The Metropolitan Police Department plans to take maximum security measures in the areas around the Imperial Palace to guard against possible terrorism and disruptive activities by extremists.

Riot police will also be sent to Shibuya, a popular gathering spot for young people during big events.

Emperor Akihito's abdication ceremony is set to take place tomorrow, and will be followed by Crown Prince Naruhito's accession ceremony on Wednesday.

Both ceremonies will be held at the Imperial Palace.

Police vehicles will encircle the palace to protect it from possible acts of terrorism in which cars are used as weapons.

Radio transmitters will also be deployed to intercept drone movements and prevent a drone-based aerial attack.


On Saturday, the new emperor will greet the public from the palace.

The Metropolitan Police Department will implement security and crowd control measures on the assumption that about 150,000 people will turn up, roughly the same number who visited for the Emperor's New Year greeting in January.

A line of people hoping to enter the palace is expected to stretch about 500m from Tokyo Station in Chiyoda ward to the Imperial Palace Plaza.

On Saturday, a 1km section of Uchibori-dori avenue, which runs along the palace between the Ote-mon Gate and Iwaidabashi intersection, will be closed for 11 hours.

Parts of some streets, including Uchibori-dori, Sotobori-dori and Aoyama-dori avenues, will also be closed 10 times for up to 15 minutes across tomorrow, Wednesday and Saturday, when the Crown Prince travels between the Imperial Palace and Akasaka Estate in Minato ward.

The Metropolitan Police Department will be on full alert against possible bombings by international terrorist organisations and disruptive activities by extremists tomorrow and on Wednesday, when the imperial succession ceremonies will take place, as well as on Saturday, when visits by the public are planned.

Nightclubs and other establishments in the district have organised events tomorrow night where young people can celebrate as the clock passes into the new era.

Some on social media are already preparing to celebrate the start of the new era, suggesting people shout "Happy Reiwa".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline 'Police on full alert in Tokyo ahead of transition to Reiwa era'. Print Edition | Subscribe