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Personal Protection in Japan
by Darrin Nitschke, (class 36), Opcorps Co., Ph: (030) 336-6444

Those who are active Personal Protection Specialists may find themselves tasked with providing protective services for their principal in a foreign country. Those that protect company CEO's who are involved in international dealings may, sooner or later, be on their way to Japan. Japan presents many problems for the PPS, from advance preparation to actual protective movements.

For most foreigners arriving in Japan, the nightmare begins at the airport. Japan has several international airports, but the most common for U.S. travelers is Narita, which services Tokyo. Narita consists of two terminals that are not conveniently connected, and each serves different airlines. Most of the services available in Narita are in English. The real problem begins with getting to Tokyo, which is about 50 miles from the airport. Transportation is available by train, express train, limousine bus, and taxi. Recommended is the limousine bus, as it will take you to Tokyo Station. A taxi will cost about $200.00, and could be time consuming.

Once you arrive in Tokyo, or any other city in Japan, your problems really become apparent. The biggest problem for most will be language. If possible arrange to have an interpreter available, or have an English-speaking executive from your host company meet you. Many Japanese can understand basic English, but are very shy in using it. Most large firms in Tokyo have at least one person who can speak passable English. Find who these people are, as they can make your job much easier!

Transportation in Japan can be a real hassle. The traffic jams in Tokyo can make an L.A. traffic jam seem smooth and easy. If driving is out, then one can fight the crowds in the trains and subways. These crowds may seem hostile, but your biggest threat will probably be losing a shoe. Subway and train services are very safe, clean, punctual, and crowded. English maps and timetables are available and the ticketing system is easy to use, but it is advised that the advance person actually uses these services to understand firsthand their operation. Buses are difficult to use, as their destinations are usually written in Japanese. Taxis are reliable, but can be expensive in the city. Lastly, for out of town travel, the choices are car, train, bullet train (shinkansen) and aircraft. Commercial air travel or the shinkansen is recommended. Other methods are too slow or are easy to get lost.

Those from the U.S. who wish to drive in Japan will find that the Japanese drive on the left side of the road. Other problems associated with driving are that most traffic signs are in Japanese, roads are extremely narrow in most places, parking places are rare, and street names are almost nonexistent. This last point makes it very difficult to locate addresses in Japan. It is recommended that you hire a local security driver if needed. If requested, your host company may provide a company car and driver for the principal, but the protection team will need to hire cars and drivers in most cases.

Other points to note, and which are applicable for any foreign travel, are national holidays and festivals. These periods see a large increase in travel for the local people, and this makes travel plans for you difficult, if not impossible. International flights to Japan can be a problem as well. One of Japan's largest exports is the tourist, and all of them return sooner or later. book flights well in advance if possible and don't be surprised if your party is the only non-Japanese on the flight.

Lastly, those of you who might want to carry firearms in Japan will find that this is illegal. Japan has a strict "no firearms of any type" law, and it is rigorously enforced with heavy penalties.

Copyright © 2003, Executive Protection Institute