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Terrorism fears could mean end of Kabukicho in run up to 2020 Olympics

Kabukicho at night (The Tokyo Reporter)
TOKYO (TR) – Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee announced that Tokyo will be the host of the 2020 Olympic Games. Since then, the media has reported on the necessary preparations that will unfold over the next seven years.

Nikkan Gendai (Sept. 16) speculates that one of those tasks may be to eliminate the nation’s biggest red-light district of Kabukicho due to possible acts of terrorism.

The evening tabloid says that 10 million people will be visiting the capital over the 17-day period, a figure that is much greater than the 1.4 million visitors for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was jointly held with South Korea.

“With that that number of people, nobody knows what will happen,” says an insider working within the government in Kasumigaseki. “The concern is terrorism.”

The newspaper cites past Olympic Games, such as when eight Palestinian terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972 and the bombing in Atlanta in 1996 that injured over 100 people, as examples of concerns.

“Will the 25,000 police officers on duty for the 2020 Olympics be enough?” wonders the government insider. “That is the burning question for the National Police Agency.”

The article says that safety and a sense of peace of mind were sales points during the candidacy for Tokyo. As a consequence, Kabukicho, which is located a few kilometers north of the proposed location for the National Stadium, may just have may be the target of yet another clean up.

“Right now,” says an official from within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “Kabukicho is filled with troublemaking Africans and Chinese gangsters, either of which can be controlled by the government.”

As a consequent, the red-light district will be the ideal place in which to harbor terrorists.

“Japanese and Chinese gangsters and various unruly foreign groups will need to be cleared out,” says the aforementioned official. “The completion of the plan will coincide with the 2020 Olympic Games.”

To be sure, this would not be the first crackdown on Kabukicho. In 2005, a year after Ishihara appointed Yutaka Takehana as vice governor, adult-goods stores, underground casinos, hostess clubs, and massage parlors were put out of business, possibly due to Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Another concern is all of the area’s old buildings, many of which were constructed in the 1970s. “There is a fire and earthquake risk,” says the same official. “A fire during the Olympics would be disastrous. These structures must be torn down.”

Source: “Tokyo gorin kettei de hajimaru Shinjuku Kabukicho ‘kaimetsu’ sakusen,” Nikkan Gendai (Sept. 16)