This year's Tokyo Marathon will take place under an unprecedented level of security to guard against terrorist threats, following the recent hostage crisis involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group.
More than 10,000 personnel, including members of the Metropolitan Police Department, will be on watch Sunday for possible terrorist attacks on Tokyo Marathon 2015.
The about 36,000 participants in the annual event will be barred from bringing in plastic beverage bottles and other water containers. There will be significantly more metal detectors and security cameras installed than last year, and dozens of police officers will run alongside race participants.
The public and private sectors are cooperating on these measures in a bid to prevent a terrorist attack. This will be an important test of the nation's ability to keep the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics safe from terrorist threats.
Plastic bottles banned
Participants will not be allowed to bring containers such as plastic bottles, water bottles, cans and glass bottles. The number of metal detectors will be increased to 50, from four at the previous event, and six entrances will be set up, an increase from two last year. Baggage checks will be conducted at the entrance gates to keep such beverage containers away from the starting line.
Only unopened paper packages of drinks and plastic pouches of jelly drinks will be allowed, with strict limits of 200 milliliters per bottle and 400 milliliters in total.
Containers such as plastic bottles, which can be easily changed into liquid bombs, have been used in past terror attacks. As runners are required to stay hydrated, it is unusual for participants not to be allowed to bring in beverages during the marathon.
Although the Tokyo Marathon's organizer will offer beverages in paper cups, some participants are complaining that they cannot comfortably run in such a restricted environment.
According to the organising Tokyo Marathon Foundation, the new measures come at the request of the MPD. The police department began strengthening security last year, responding to the Boston Marathon bombing in the United States in 2013.
However, there has been rising fear of terror attacks in Japan following the series of terrorists attacks that recently occurred in France, and the ISIL release of a video in which the militant group threatened to continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Japanese.
Running cops to make debut
The police department has decided to deploy a record 4,500 personnel, including a first-ever running police squad of 64 officers.
The Tokyo Marathon will be guarded on a maximum scale with more than 10,000 personnel, including about 6,000 employees of private security firms and volunteers.
These security personnel will conduct baggage and body checks at the start and finish lines, where people gather.
Many people were seen giving things to runners through fences last year, but race personnel will crack down on such activity this year.
As part of efforts to boost security along the route, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation has increased the number of surveillance cameras that can check images in real time to 21 this year from 11 last year.
The Tokyo marathon is one of the World Marathon Majors comprising international major city marathons. It attracts about 1.6 million spectators along the route, which includes Tokyo sightseeing spots.
About 1,200 street security video cameras will also be utilized, in cooperation with major security firm Secom Co. and local governments.
In places where such cameras are not installed, members of the volunteer-based security organisation Team Smile will patrol areas they are familiar with.
"Ensuring the safety of everyone involved is the top priority when holding this marathon," a foundation official said. "The marathon will be held under tight security, but we want participants to run with peace of mind."