Japanese Airport Scrambles to Shut Security Loopholes

Posted on June 9, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

TOKYO -- Authorities at Japan's busiest airport are scrambling to tighten security after they failed to stop a man who smashed a car through a temporary construction fence and then drove a limousine around the tarmac while aircraft took off and landed.

Acting under the influence of drugs, the intruder, Toshiaki Terauchi, killed himself by jumping in a canal before he could be apprehended.

The incident at Tokyo's Haneda Airport came just days after the government pledged to guard Japan's transportation network more closely as a precaution against terrorism. The 32-year-old unemployed man smashed a stolen car through an airport fence leading into a restricted area, then commandeered a limousine bus and a car in succession for a 30-minute ride around the tarmac.

About 10 minutes elapsed before authorities shut down Haneda's three runways.

Airport, police and government officials have met to review the breach and discuss ways to close security loopholes. Unlike permanent fences surrounding the airport, the construction fence wasn't equipped with sensors. The airport has since posted guards in the area and reinforced the fence with barricades.

Twelve aircraft took off or landed while the man was on the tarmac. About 30,000 travelers were affected by delays or cancellations following the runway shutdown. Haneda is Japan's busiest airport and handles mostly domestic flights. It served about 60 million passengers in 2003.

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