Transport ministry, train operators discuss security measures


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."

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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.”

Seriously, the utter vagueness of Japanese PR-speak is ridiculous - how to say something without actually saying anything at all.

2 ( +4 / -1 )

Shinkansens carry between 800 - 1000 passengers and in the case of major routes leave EVERY three minutes, on the mark (or the operators are forced to speed and cause accidents... at least on non-Shinkansen JR trains!). There is NO WAY they can do ANY kind of screening at all. None. If they EVER tried to implement any safety measures such as baggage limits or what you can carry, costs would soar, and trains would be delayed, not to mention they would have to search luggage and carry-on to look for liquids, stop selling bentos and souvenirs, and remove vending machines, etc. Japan Inc. would never allow this because it would greatly affect the bottom line, and halt a LOT of traffic to boot.

3 ( +4 / -3 )

Well, how about they slow down a little bit and think of the safety of their passengers instead of mega-bucks. It only takes on person like that to injure or even kill. Shinkansens are fast moving closed boxes and there is no way to even open the window. They are like airplanes. Why not put some rules into place - like NO carrying gasoline (for goodness sakes!) and no need of lighters or knives. The world has changed and well... maybe it's time for the fast-moving Bullet Trains to have some sense for once. No need to have so many trains leaving so often - people can slow down a little I think.

-11 ( +2 / -10 )

we don't need a knee-jerk and heavy handed response from the gov't on this, especially the baggage screening measure. the beauty of the shink is that it is totally hassle-free to use. let's not let one freak ruin it for all of us.

12 ( +11 / -2 )

I am carrying my mini home fire extinguisher and a gas mask on all future Shinkansen trips. There are bound to be some loons who will copy - cat this incident.

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

Nakano guy got it right. You would hope they wouldn't get all paranoid and do something like getting rid of every public garbage can in the country for the rest of all time because of a single incident.

6 ( +7 / -2 )

JR should stock up on beer cans with the old-style ring pulls. In the event of fire, the ring could be pulled and the can lobbed at the fire like a hand grenade.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

There are always sickos to ruin a good thing. Do they have a photo of what this guy looked like ?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Bomb/explosive sniffing dogs, are don't get in the way, they use em in the US. Random searches, rather than 100% airport style screening wouldn't be bad either.

-3 ( +2 / -4 )

Look, this is an expected response to the incident that happened, talk, talk, talk, talk...make the public think something is being done, do nothing but call meetings and keep up appearances, and talk and talk some more. Japan Inc

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

To the thumbs down tw*ts watch this:

-2 ( +2 / -4 )


I don't really want to see him post-BBQ.

Totally agree that the beauty of the shinkansen is being able to arrive 1 minute before one leaves and hop on straight away. Having said that, the fact that almost 1600 people can ride on one train seated (16 cars x 25 rows x 4 seats minus some Green Car seats) is quite scary if someone wanted to commit a terrorist act. Two of them crashing head on at full speed could result in as many as or even more than the number of fatalities of 9-11. With no deaths in 50 years on the main shinkansen lines, the system is still amazingly efficient.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One thing the train companies could do and it would not slow down anyone or impede access is it put sensors much like smoke detectors on board the trains that 'sniff' for flammable liquids and automated halon fire extinguishing systems in the washrooms. Those halon systems would pull double duty in the washrooms in that they would put out the fire by displacing all oxygen and in turn knock out a person that started the fire as well. Once the system is activated it would signal the driver via a stop alarm and lock the door to the washroom. This would give the driver time to stop the train and send someone to that washroom. Within two minutes the door could be unlocked and if the person had not died from the fire, then they could be given CPR. These suggestions could be implemented during normal maintenance and would at least address some of the concerns without making travel bog down in restrictive searches and their associated delays.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

People can also burn themself with a bottle of whiskey.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I would like to see them bring over the TSA to train them on how to find things like finger nail clippers.

I believe in full control of the masses. Shinkansen should be on the list. WHo cares about timely departure and arrivals. It means nothing in life.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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