Tokyo’s Shibuya under security on Halloween after Seoul crush

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Overflowing with young people in Halloween costume is seen at the scramble crossing near Shibuya station, Tokyo, on Monday night.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo’s busy Shibuya district was put under high security on Halloween on Monday night following Saturday’s stampede in the South Korean capital of Seoul that left over 150 people dead.

In the district overflowing with young people in Halloween costume, many visitors said that they want to enjoy their night out within safe limits.

With the novel coronavirus situation calming down, the Shibuya Ward government had said that it would do without for the first time in three years a request that people refrain from visiting the busy center of the ward during the Halloween period.

After seeing the deadly crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district and crowds in Shibuya over the weekend, however, the municipality Monday afternoon urged people to reconsider turning up at the ward center, which attracts big Halloween crowds just as Itaewon does.

The number of people out and about around Shibuya Station increased drastically from around 6 p.m. There were also many people not in Halloween costume who stood recording the scene on their smartphones.

Police officers stationed in the area called on pedestrians over the microphone not to stop or run, asking them to walk on slowly after those in front.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department deployed uniformed and riot police officers not only in the Shibuya Center Street shopping area accessible by the iconic scramble crossing near the station, but also on narrow alleys and sloping roads where stampedes could occur.

Many people are showing up after long periods of patience during the COVID-19 pandemic, said a 32-year-old man in costume visiting Shibuya from Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. “I’d like to enjoy my night safely.”

An 18-year-old university student dressed as a maid said he is a little scared after the Seoul tragedy. “But my desire to enjoy Halloween outweighed [the fears],” he added.

“We hope that people will enjoy their time while following the rules as usual,” said the manager of a sporting goods store in Shibuya, 41.