Japan Won’t Welcome Chinese Torch Guards

The Olympic torch relay is coming to Nagano later this month, and Japanese authorities are not keen on the idea of having Chinese paramilitary guards provide security:

National Public Safety Commission Chairman Shinya Izumi indicated on Friday that Japan will not welcome “security runners” from China to accompany the Olympic torch when it arrives in Nagano if their role is to serve as guards.

China plans to send two runners to accompany the Olympic torch when it arrives in Japan later this month. In a post-Cabinet meeting on Friday, Izumi said, “I don’t know what status they have, but if their role is providing security or something like that, then I think that’s a job for Nagano Prefectural Police. I can’t welcome the idea of them running in Japan just because they have run in other countries.”

It remains unclear whether the “security runners” will actually end up being sent and what role they would play. In other countries where the torch has been carried, runners in matching blue clothes have surrounded the Olympic flame and held back people who came near it.

“We should not break our principle of having security upheld by Japanese police. We are considering taking security measures focusing on Nagano Prefectural Police to ensure a safe relay,” Izumi said.

Nagano City officials are not expecting huge protests like the ones that took place in Europe and America, but they are still worried. Here’s a news report from April 8th about

  • A shopkeeper says she is half-worried and half-excited about the torch relay, but she is happy about the increase in sales the crowds will bring.
  • A meeting of city workers taking part in the event is shown, complete with glossy pamphlets and a powerpoint presentation.
  • One city employee says he thinks it will be safe and there won’t be any big protests.
  • Another city employee is asked for his opinion on the news reports of the protests in Europe. He declares that such activities are “stupid,” and thinks there are better methods available.

The National Police Agency announced today that it is planning to use the “hooligan provision” of immigration law to prevent radical anti-China activists from entering Japan and holding protests in Nagano. It has also been announced that the initial security force plan of about 500 Nagano police officers and 1,000 private security guards will be boosted to an unspecified number.

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