The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has called on the five major JR railway companies to beef up security, following the suicide by fire of a 71-year-old man in a bullet train between Shin-Yokohama and Odawara stations on Monday.
A 52-year-old woman also died of smoke asphyxiation in the incident, which was the first time that a fire has occurred on the shinkansen trains since they began running in 1964.
Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta warned the JR companies to be on the alert for copycats who may attempt to commit a similar crime, and asked that increased patrols be implemented, and that overall security be intensified to prevent similar and other incidents from occurring again, Fuji TV reported.
Furthermore, the ministry asked that regulations regarding inflammable items be altered to prohibit the carrying of any such item weighing 3 kilograms or more. Ohta also asked the rail operators to consider baggage screening measures.
However, JR officials are still debating the necessity of such actions which would require a big increase in manpower and also cause delays. Most shinkansen trains carry between 800 and 1,000 passengers.
Following the meeting, a JR Central executive told reporters, "We will consider what has been said very carefully, and certainly wish to change any policies and implement security measures that are deemed necessary as quickly as possible."© Japan Today