JR East plans to provide wearable cameras to station staff

This photo provided shows a shinkansen train security guard with a wearable camera strapped to his chest. (Photo courtesy of East Japan Railway Co./Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — East Japan Railway Co. plans to provide wearable cameras from April to its station staff working night shifts to better protect them from trouble with passengers, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

By providing such cameras, the company wants to reduce the risk of its workers being victims of violence or crime, the sources said. It would be the first train operator to use such cameras for security purposes, according to the Department of Transport.

The operator, known as JR East, will consider how to keep its workers safe while protecting passengers’ privacy at the same time, the sources said.

The Department of Transportation said there were 439 cases of violence targeting station workers at JR East and other train companies nationwide in fiscal 2020, although the figure fell by 172 cases from compared to the previous year, as the number of passengers decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wearable cameras, many of which can be attached to people’s clothing, allow users to record video without using their hands.

JR East conducted a demonstration test in 2020 involving security personnel wearing a camera on board a shinkansen bullet train to check the communication situation on a moving vehicle and ways to provide support to workers by watching a live stream.

The operator is considering which stations and areas where workers will use these cameras, and whether to notify passengers that they are doing so, the sources said.

Whether the cameras will record and be monitored remotely at all times will also be discussed, they said.

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