Photo/IllutrationMembers of an anti-terrorism police task force monitor Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal on Oct. 17 ahead of the arrival of foreign VIPs. (Yohei Kobayakawa)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Tokyo is raising its state of alert to the highest level as VIPs started to arrive in the capital on Oct. 20 to attend the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito on Oct. 22.

The Metropolitan Police Department will set up its highest security headquarters, led by its chief commissioner, to ensure safety on the day of the Sokuirei-Seiden-no-Gi ceremony that proclaims Naruhito’s enthronement.

The last time the MPD established such a headquarters was in July 1999, when a hijacker stabbed to death the pilot of a jumbo jet on an All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

VIPs from more than 160 countries and international organizations have been invited to the ceremony.

Tokyo police for the first time are receiving support from dispatched bodyguard squads to protect the visiting dignitaries.

Heavy security arrangements were already visible in the center of Tokyo in early October, with vehicle checkpoints being set up and uniformed police officers patrolling the streets.

Police will deploy the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Interceptor Drone Team on the day of the ceremony along the route that connects the Imperial Palace and the Akasaka Palace, where Naruhito and Empress Masako live, as well as around the Diet building and the prime minister’s office.

Large-scale traffic control will be imposed on Oct. 22 and 23. For example, the inner tracks of Chuo-kanjo-sen Belt Line on the Metropolitan Expressway will be closed, except for certain areas.

Police expect traffic on many surface roads will be affected by the VIPs’ movements and other ceremony-related actions.

(This article was written by Yohei Kobayakawa and Chihaya Inagaki.)