Bomb precursor chemicals

Japan to Test Hitachi Explosive-sensing Device at Train Station

Japan will test new "walk-through" bomb detectors that can pick up minute traces of explosives when the country hosts an Asia-Pacific summit next month, government officials said.

The system, still in the development and test phase, will be installed on Nov. 12-14 at a train station in Yokohama near Tokyo, the venue for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, officials said.

Passengers will be alerted by signs and given the choice of whether to help use the Hitachi-made system or another gate under a test that is meant to check for false positives. Police also hope the new device will deter terrorist attacks during the summit, a police official said.

The walk-through gate works by blowing a stream of warm air that brushes the passing passenger before it is captured by a suction device for chemical analysis of any airborne particles.Explosives particles can be recognized within two or three seconds, according to the science and technology ministry.

When a person makes or carries home-made bombs, "chemical substances from the explosives can stay on the producer's hands, clothes or bags... The air jet can blow them off," said Akiko Kobayashi at the ministry.

The system, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, also has been tested at Tokyo's Haneda airport and in Akihabara, Tokyo's electrical goods and comic and anime shopping district, since last year.

Security has been tightening ahead of the APEC meetings, which will bring government leaders from 21 economies, with more police officers patroling train stations, airports, parks and other locations.

The national police said it will mobilize a maximum of 21,000 officers a day when a string of meetings are held from Nov. 7 to 14, the largest international event in Japan since a Group of Eight summit in 2008.

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