Hiroshima turned into fortress for G7 summit amid paranoia after Kishida attack
By María Roldán
Tokyo, May 17 (EFE).- The Japanese city of Hiroshima has began to bolster security with a record police deployment ahead of the three-day G7 leaders’ summit starting Friday, as a recent attack against Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has kept authorities and the public in panic mode.
Around 24,000 security personnel will be deployed in the western city, an unprecedented deployment outside of Tokyo, and about 1,000 more than the numbers deployed during the last G7 summit in the country in 2016, held in the Mie prefecture.
Local authorities have stepped up surveillance in the city and plan to reduce traffic by half during the three days of meetings to facilitate the movement of dignitaries and minimize chances of untoward incidents amid an atmosphere of paranoia in the country that has led to repeated security scares.
The Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima, a luxury hotel on the Ujina island – about five kilometers from the Hiroshima city center – is set to be the main venue of the summit.
The hotel can be reached only through a solitary road or through water.
Access to the bridge that connects the city’s mainland part from the island has been barricaded since May 15, when security restrictions kicked-in ahead of the summit.
The area will remain closed-off until Sunday, along with major traffic restrictions across the city to facilitate the movement of leaders from Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Apart from these G7 members, the summit will also be attended by special invitees from other countries and international bodies.
Authorities have urged businesses to allow distance-work or declare holidays during the summit to reduce traffic load.
Maritime surveillance has also been stepped up in the Seto inland sea that surrounds Ujina and is dotted with other small islands.
Japanese authorities have carried out drills to control the movement of vessels and other suspicious activities.
The movement of drones in the area will also be prevented by blocking radio-waves.
Signboards and trash bins close to the city’s critical zones have been sealed to prevent potential attacks.
Along with Hiroshima, security has also been stepped up in Tokyo.
The massive security roll-out is being seen as a response to the attempted attack against Kishida on Apr. 15 during a campaign meeting, in which a spectator threw a home-made explosive device towards the leader.
The PM escaped unhurt, but the incident, which follows the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022 during a street rally for election campaigning, has led to an atmosphere of fear.
Abe was also killed by a home-made weapon, and recently, reports of suspected objects by citizens have multiplied in the Asian nation.
In recent weeks, security forces have time and again shut down some stations or business complexes partially or completely over the discovery of unattended objects.
On Apr. 15, a shopping mall connected to the Hiroshima train station was evacuated and the station shut down after an abandoned bag was found in a bathroom, resulting in the deployment of an anti-bomb squad.