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Tranquil Japanese city says it will host safe '98 Olympics


August 1, 1996
Web posted at: 12:40 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent May Lee

NAGANO, Japan (CNN) -- Many residents of Nagano read about the bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and shrugged. There is no question, they say, that the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano will be safe.

Most people who live in Nagano don't believe a bombing could happen in the Japanese city.

"I was so shocked by what happened," one woman said. "Japan is a very safe country."

Another woman agreed. "Japan doesn't have to worry about terrorism. It's a safe country."


The Nagano Olympic Committee is hammering out a strategy to ensure that the Winter Games and its venues are secure.

But unlike Atlanta, which heavily publicized its security plans, Nagano -- which prides itself on its serenity -- doesn't aim to stifle the city with a blanket of police and troops.

"We don't really want an image of overly strict security with guards everywhere," Olympic Security Director Asata Hara said. "So we're aiming to create an atmosphere with softer, more sympathetic security for both the athletes and the fans."

However, after the March 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo subways that killed about a dozen people and the deadly 1994 gas attack in the quiet town of Matsumoto, just 50 miles from Nagano, some in Nagano think a blanket approach would be better.


Innkeeper Toshio Hirano believes home-grown terrorism has to be taken seriously.

"My friend was a victim of Matsumoto poison gas (a) couple of years ago," he said. "And it was made by regular people just like you. So nobody knows who's going to do it. So it's pretty scary."


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