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Contingent of riot police arrive for extra security

Date Posted: 2003-04-05

A contingent of 330 riot police with 50 vehicles are now on Okinawa. The mainland police came at the request of the Okinawa Prefectural Police. Okinawan police officials say that they deemed the reinforcement necessary considering the heightened possibility of terrorist and other hostile acts in the aftermath of the beginning of the war in Iraq.

Police officials say the extra police will be dispatched to patrol and security duty at some 50 locations throughout the Okinawa main island, including U.S. military facilities, airports and other sensitive areas.

The arrival of the police force worries Okinawa tourism officials who fear a repetition of the situation two years ago, when the very visible presence of riot police units throughout the prefecture is said to have contributed to the many cancellations of tours. "We can only hope that they don't go into excesses with the security measures," an official at Okinawa Tourism Convention Bureau said.

The riot police personnel arrived this time on civilian flights instead of JSDF aircraft. This measure was supposedly taken to dampen speculation that arose when the riot police units came to Okinawa during the war in Afghanistan.

A representative of the Prefectural Hotel, Inn & Environmental Health Trade Union said, "Just when the number of school excursions and public groups coming to Okinawa is starting to recover after hard effort of everyone in the tourism business, we would like to see that the police do not conduct excessive security that would damage our efforts." He went on to request that the Prefectural Police and other authorities would take these concerns into consideration while conducting their duties.

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