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More security cameras to be installed on shinkansen trains

39 Comments

Two JR companies plan to install more security cameras on their shinkansen (bullet trains), following the suicide by fire of a 71-year-old man in a bullet train between Shin-Yokohama and Odawara stations on June 30.

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.

JR Tokai and JR West said they will install two new security cameras inside each car to cover the aisles and interiors, Fuji TV reported. Currently, security cameras are installed at the rear of each car.

The new cameras will be installed on the trains from next fiscal year and will be completed by 2018.

Security cameras have been thus far kept to a minimum due to concerns that the privacy of passengers would be infringed upon.

Moreover, security cameras will be added to both the doors exiting the train car, as well as outside the lavatories where it had been previously near-impossible to see.

Meanwhile, JR officials said it would be difficult to screen all baggage, which was brought up at a meeting last week with Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta. Bullet trains carry between 800 and 1,000 passengers and usually depart an average of every 10 minutes. Baggage screening would cause big delays, JR officials said.

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39 Comments
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So are they putting cameras in the bathrooms? This guy immolated himself in a location where there is no camera, so how are they going to attempt to prevent that from happening again?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Instead of panicking and installing yet more security cameras all over the place, how about doing a little research to find what was going on with this guy?

A lot of suicides, especially the more dramatic ones are botched psych cases or in the middle of psych "treatment."

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Bertie, I don't think we can reasonably expect JR to solve societal problems.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Camera+smoke= no detection Smoke detector = OK

By the way, I am sincerely sure the issue lacks among the absence of passengers' reaction: "smelly jerrican, maybe some heavy drinker", "pissed & excited behavior, perhaps a guy who lost his keitai", "desperarate words and pouring fluid on him, surely the NHK drama live!" I mean, anyone with minimum common sense would have raised alert on the spot...except Japanese.

Cameras will not change such sad event from happening but it will surely help to assist the injured people. Good move. Need info communication about tero attacks(stickers, instructions...)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I try not to comment too often here, but I just have to chime in and ask, how in the world would this prevent what happened or anything similar in the future from happening? Are you honestly trying to tell us that someone is actively watching these cameras? No of course not. They are for recording purposes only to be reviewed after a crime is committed. Of course what happened was tragic, but it is so ridiculous for people, j-gov, JR top freak out over it. How many people have died on or because of the Shinkansen out of the millions and millions, if not billions, of passengers who have ridden the train countless years over the decades. Trains are the ranked as the single safest mode of transportation on the planet Earth at a rate of 0.2 deaths per billion miles. Thats a world average. We all know Japan one of, if not the number 1, safety record when it comes to trains.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

At least, it will make travelling a little harder for those pesky chikan...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Michael: yeah I don't think that chikan are really an issue on shinkansen where people are sitting down 99% of the time.

Do they really think that cameras are the solution to this problem? Is it supposed to deter the next nutjob from lighting himself on fire? The fact that this has only happened once in the past 40 years should be grounds enough to label it as a freak incident unlikely to occur again in the future. Sure what happened was horrible, but installing more cameras seems to be more of an overreaction than a solution.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This guy was angry that his pension was small. He should have gone on welfare which is higher than his pension.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Instead of panicking and installing yet more security cameras all over the place, how about doing a little research to find what was going on with this guy?

They need to do something to give those who are panicking a false sense of security.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

strangerland hit the nail on the head; JR needs to look as though they are doing something, and the public wants another false sense of security. now can we all go back to eating our bentos and drinking beer on the shink?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Profits before safety again in Japan.

How are two security cameras going to stop anyone? Who is monitoring all these new security cameras and why does it take 3-4 years to install them all?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If a person wants to light oneself on fire in a shinkansen, it will happen again. Doesn't matter if cameras are there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Unfortunately, like so many things here, this is just window dressing; nobody will be watching the things and even if there were monitors, there are already 12 cameras and they're planning on adding 24 more to each car, plus two on each exit for another 24, plus one on the "deck" for another 12 or so for a total of about 72 cameras, give or take, depending on which line. Have to agree with Amidalism on this; it's a rarity, not a trend. Also, totally agree with FernGully; go into bathroom, douse oneself in gas, step out, light match-if someone wants to do it, they will.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@nakanoguy01

And keeping eyes glued to the smart phones...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should have a train marshal in every bullet trains. It will acts as a better deterrent.

why does it take 3-4 years to install them all?

Because they will install 2 security cameras for each car and considering how many there are? It should be completed by 2018 according to the report.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You know, if the Japanese managed to move on and continue using public transportation in the wake of the Aum subway gas attacks, then I'm sure they can do so now without adopting any insane US-style security theatre.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about installing emergency sprinklers instead?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@speed my first thought also

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How about installing emergency sprinklers instead?

Sprinklers would add weight and cause balance problems because of the tanks of water needed. What they really need is extractor fans to suck out the smoke. The fans should be linked to smoke detectors, and they should have battery backups. If that's too difficult or expensive, how about a hammer next to every window.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Typical committee response.

One freak incident doesn't warrant such a reaction. This isn't a solution to anything.

Why doesn't JR show this level of over reaction to the people killing themselves on its property week-in-week-out?

Most 'solutions' in Japan are impersonal - barriers, cameras, signs etc. This really needs to change. If JR has so much money sitting in its coffers that they can suddenly decide to install 2 cameras in every car on every shinkansen, then why aren't they currently employing a few social workers to 'patrol' the most notorious platforms?

I know the answer. I wonder how much the self immolater's family was billed for the inconvenience he caused. JR, like most corporate entities will just put finances first. The government should really be stepping up to the plate with practical and personal solutions to what is a huge societal problem in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Security installation of cameras will do absolutely nothing for safety and is just another attempt by the government and big business to continue to quietly gain more control from ordinary citizens. There are other alternatives for security and against a nut job as in this case is rare.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think the new installment of security cameras will prevent this kind of incidents, because why should you care about if you're being watched or not when you put fire on yourself to die? Of course, it would be helpful for staff members to notice that something is wrong quicker than ever before, but it's not sufficient. I think some system which can screen people's belongings fast is needed. They could install x-ray into the gate or something.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@bjohnson23; Have you seen the number of security cameras at the ticket gates at Tokyo station? Took the Shinkansen a while back and there were dozens of cameras just at one gate; Big Brother is here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@HollisBrown: They are a rail company, not a mental institute.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

At least, it will make travelling a little harder for those pesky chikan...

Who are usually not found on bullet trains...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Tokiyo I'd have thought it's in their interests to stop people killing themselves on their property.

If their drains were overflowing every day, stinking the place out, and causing a health hazard etc., and they were failing to address the problem, would you argue "Hey, they're a train company, not plumbers"?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Perhaps this will encourage copycats because now they'll have an audience.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder how much the self immolater's family was billed for the inconvenience he caused.

No more than the amount of his estate (ie - nothing from their personal finances). And it doesn't sound like he had much money, so they likely either didn't/won't get billed at all, or very little.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Madness. Any potential terrorist will now switch to normal trains. You start policing normal trains, they'll switch to buses. The list is endless....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, at least they'll be able to see who committed a crime, if the cabin is not full of smoke, of course. What an utterly useless waste of money! They should put full time security guards into the trains and give them powers to search or remove any suspicious passengers and/or their luggage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Baggage screening wouldn't cause any delays at all. People would have to arrive at the station acouple of hours before their train was due to depart, that's all. Just like planes.

That said, the very idea is utter nonsense....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cameras would be good at catching people committing crimes AFTER the fact. They would do nothing to prevent them unless they caught VERY suspicious behaviour and had added security and an action plan to deal with it. It's not a preventative measure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

will have to have a really fast shutter speed on the shink.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Madness. Any potential terrorist will now switch to normal trains. You start policing normal trains, they'll switch to buses. The list is endless....

In fact the first incident of this type involved a bus. It happened back in the 1980s. A homeless man went to a gas station, where he filled a bucket with gasoline. He also bought a newspaper and a lighter. He then walked over to a bus stop in Shinjuku and found a full bus that was about to depart. He climbed onto the bus, threw the bucket of gasoline over the seats. Then he lit the newspaper and threw it into the bus. About 30 people were killed, though the perpetrator calmly walked away unharmed. Throughout the entire sequence of events, nobody challenged him.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

seriously what are security cameras going to do, if ive got a consealed bottle of gasoline and a lighter in my bag, the time it takes me to remove it from my bag soak myself and light myself would be less than 20seconds. unless there are armed guards on the train, or baggage checks before boarding trains the cameras wont stop s&&&t

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Japan it is really so easy to see "mass psychology" at work - before long JR East and JR Kyushu will follow suite (though I predict those big bottles of sake and Shochu surely will lead to tussles between security and passengers intent on "wine tasting")... just hope they have impressive-looking chaps as security personnel and not beerbellied kids!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that the use of the cameras will be when someone will push the button, instead of running half a train, the guard will have an idea of what is happening, this what I personally think about it. Also, as some people said here, the Shinkansen is the safest way of transport in the world, so there is no need to do much about security, there are sick people all around the world and we cannot change that, and even with the tightest security you cannot avoid that sort of drama...unfortunately. To the lady who died I wish she rest in peace.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The cameras will not of course prevent another similar accident to happen. In my opinion they are only intended to show that JR is doing 'something', when it is obvious that there is not much that can be done to prevent these type of events, lest becoming a controlling society where your bag is screened before you get on a train, enter a shopping mall, go to your office and basically everywhere else. It was not an act of terrorism. And terrorism is not prevented by taking away civil liberties and checking every citizen every time and every where. It is fought with good foreign policy. So good on JR for bending to the often 'dumb' public opinion and 'showing' that they are doing something. Then we can all move on with our lives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yubaru, Of course, security Video Camera will not be suitable for Toilet but Smoke Alarm will be okay inside Toilet.

Also they need to put "Fire extinguisher" and "Fire Alarm" in every car in Shinkensen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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