Since September, subway lines throughout Japan have been hit by graffiti artists who have up to now spray painted the word "CUTE" or the cryptic letters "MTGS" in eight Japanese cities, the most recent occurring in Nagoya on Oct 26. The trains were defaced at night while parked in shunting yards or at stations.
The Sankei Shimbun reported this week that from the style of the vandals' designs and images captured on surveillance cameras, it is believed two or more people are involved.
After striking first in Kyoto, the taggers moved to Osaka, followed by Fukuoka, Kobe, Osaka, Sendai, Sapporo, Yokohama and Nagoya. The Tokyo Metro line was also defaced in September, but according to a source at the company, "That one may have been a copycat crime."
Nighttime security for most of the subway lines hit is said to be relatively lax. The vandalism apparently occurred between 1:30 a.m. and the time the trains made their first runs. At several shunting yards, security fences were damaged during break-ins. At stations, the culprits may have hidden in toilet stalls before closing times.
None of the subway lines hit by the taggers were forced to delay morning train runs, but cleanup costs are estimated at around 100,000 yen per car.
The security cameras at Fukuoka and Sendai captured images of two of the graffiti artists at work, but the image quality was too poor to make any identification.
Tokyo's Toei network, anticipating the possibility of similar attacks, has increased nighttime patrols. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism has been circulating warnings to railway companies around the country.
In 2008, two foreign nationals, a Slovakian and a Hungarian, were apprehended by Osaka Police on suspicion of a series of similar acts, raising the possibility that the same group is responsible this time as well.© Japan Today