Clients range from foreign royalty to world-class athletes… A talented bodyguard reveals his “biggest enemy to date | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Clients range from foreign royalty to world-class athletes… A talented bodyguard reveals his “biggest enemy to date

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Mr. Koyamauchi took time out of his busy schedule to give an interview.

Bodyguards keep important persons away from danger

Bodyguarding is an occupation that is not so familiar in Japan, where crime is rare. Among them, the Association of International Bodyguards (AICPO), based in the United Kingdom, is a professional organization for protecting VIPs. Mr. Hidetomo Koyamauchi, deputy director general of AICPO and representative of its Japan branch, is a nationally certified bodyguard in the U.K. and a professional bodyguard who has trained in the U.S., Israel, and EU countries. He now runs a security company specializing in dignitary protection, mainly in Japan. He has guarded foreign dignitaries, foreign royal families, foreign artists, famous athletes, famous global corporations, religious leaders, and many others.

He has experience in security for foreign government VIPs, foreign royalty, foreign artists, famous athletes, and even religious leaders of famous global companies. Therefore, even if a VIP is a guest of honor from abroad, the Commissioner of the National Police Agency does not designate him or her as a security target, and a private security company is called upon to guard him or her, even if he or she is a VIP, because it is not official business. In other words, the number of people to be guarded is much larger at private security companies.

There are two patterns of requests to these private bodyguards.

(1) When companies, event companies, hotels, etc. that have invited dignitaries request them.
(2) When the dignitary himself/herself or his/her associates make the request.

Under the law, bodyguards also fall into the category of “private security companies. The security industry in Japan mainly provides security services such as security for concert venues and other locations, crowd control, cash transportation, traffic guidance, facility security, etc. Along with these services, there is a security service called “personal security,” and this is the role entrusted to bodyguards. In Japan, private security companies are not allowed to carry guns. Is it possible to provide security without a gun?

In Japan, private security companies are not allowed to carry guns. In the world of protecting dignitaries, the moment you pull out your gun, it means you have failed to protect them. It means that they had to pull out their guns because they failed to prevent a crisis before it happened. In the Secret Service, which protects the president of the United States, only the guards in the immediate vicinity carry handguns, but they rarely actually pull them out. They had their handguns and submachine guns out, but they never fired a shot.

In the dignitary protection business, there is not always just one person to guard. Sometimes they work for some of the world’s top sports teams, protecting multiple targets at the same time.

Before we make a security plan, we first define the basic premise of who we are protecting and what we are protecting,” he said. After that, we examine the possible dangers to the target. In short, after defining what we are going to protect, we consider what we need to protect from, and then we make a security plan on how we will protect them. We think about what kind of dangers are likely to occur to each security target during his/her stay in Japan. For this reason, we spend a sufficient amount of time preparing for the security guarding. For example, when we worked with a famous top-class soccer player, he was in Japan for about a week, but we spent about three months preparing for him.

Some of the players like to go shopping or sightseeing in busy areas such as Harajuku. What countermeasures are taken when security personnel go to such crowded places? In such cases, too, they conduct a thorough risk assessment in advance.

We conduct all of our actions based on a threat assessment, even when our security personnel are going to busy places. The most important part of the threat assessment is the realistic possibility of danger.

For example, if a famous soccer player goes shopping on Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, there will be a big fuss. The people who make a big fuss when they run into a famous person are those who happen to be there, and this is often a ‘favor’ rather than a ‘threat’. Apart from this ‘favoritism,’ we also examine how likely it is that someone would actually be there who would want to attack the player, and analyze the realistic likelihood of someone wielding a knife in such a place.”

Moon Jae-in shortly after winning the South Korean presidential election in ’17. Behind him, his bodyguard (far left) keeps an eye on him as he smiles and enthusiastically responds to supporters asking for a handshake.

The language study he did at age 15 that inspired him to become a bodyguard

One of the key points in analyzing a potential threat is whether there is a routine (repeated habit or behavior pattern) in the behavior of the security target, he says. For example, if a person has a routine of always going to this store on Takeshita-dori when he comes to Japan, and if he has the opportunity to go to Takeshita-dori on this visit to Japan, he will be on the alert. The risk of being ambushed increases with habitual behavior.

Another point is the leakage of information. Even if there is no routine, if information about a person’s planned activities is leaked in advance, the person will be ambushed. If there is information leakage, the level of leakage and the extent of disclosure are examined. If there is a leak of information about a person’s expected activities, the level of security alertness will increase. When it is a sudden and spontaneous visit to a store, the level of security will not be raised to that level because it is unlikely that there is a leak of information or that you are being ambushed.”

The first step in security is to properly consider the realistic possibility of danger in gathering information on the target. If an “ambush” attack is not possible, the only way an assailant can take action is to follow the assailant and time the attack. Bodyguards are trained to notice suspicious movements of the assailant to time the attack.

In the first place, personal security and protection of VIPs require that measures be taken against ambushes. If no countermeasures are taken against an ambush, the attack will be successful no matter how well security is deployed and vigilant on the day of the attack. The reason why an ambush occurs during guard duty is because there has not been sufficient advance preparation in the first place. It is important to have a solid security alert in place on the day of the ambush, with ambush countermeasures in place.

What triggered him to take on such a job that requires him to hold his breath 24 hours a day was an incident that occurred when he went to the United States to study language when he was 15 years old. On a Sunday afternoon in a rural town in Arizona, I encountered an old man walking by who suddenly collapsed in front of me. He wanted to help the old man, who had hit his head and was covered in blood, but at the time he could not speak English and did not know how to call for help, so he felt helpless.

He said, “I was motivated by the frustration of thinking, ‘There is a person in trouble right in front of me who needs help, but I can’t do anything about it. I thought that with a little knowledge and experience I might have been able to help, so I began receiving training in security and crisis management. After receiving various types of training in the U.S. and other countries, I was told by my instructors, ‘I think you are suited to be a bodyguard,’ so I enrolled in a bodyguard training institute in England, which was said to be the most rigorous at the time, and obtained a national bodyguard license in England.

After qualifying as a bodyguard in the U.K., he trained and worked as a bodyguard mainly in Europe, where he developed a desire to “aim even higher” as a professional bodyguard.

Many professional bodyguards told me, ‘Then you have to go to Israel. At that time, I was contacted by someone in Israel and asked if I would be willing to undergo training in guarding and security management. A week after receiving that call, I was in Tel Aviv, Israel.

I cannot speak in detail about the training in Israel, but it is a country of constant risk, and people have a fundamentally different sense of urgency. At the time, suicide bombings were frequent in Israel, and my instructor told me, ‘No matter how hard you work out or how good your marksmanship gets, there is nothing you can do if a terrorist with a bomb is right in front of you. They told me that it is too late to take action when danger is right in front of you, and that the only way to prevent danger from occurring is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

He still holds close to his heart the words of someone he looked up to as his “mentor” during his time in Israel: “One day, he said to me, ‘Security is the biggest thing you can do.

One day, he was asked, “Do you know what the biggest enemy of security is?” He asked me, “Do you know what the greatest enemy of security is? He told me that it is when one’s mind is carried away by the routine of a peaceful state where nothing happens. Nothing happened yesterday, nothing happened the day before yesterday, nothing happened the day after yesterday. This ‘routine of nothing ever happened in the past’ drops our sense of alertness. Criminals, assailants, and terrorists see that security guard with a lowered sense of danger, and that is when the danger happens. I think these words are true not only for bodyguards, but also for the general public in regards to crime prevention, etc.”

Two years ago on July 8, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot while giving a speech in front of Yamato Saidaiji Station on the Kintetsu Line, and this year marks the third anniversary of his death. Whenever I recall this incident, Mr. Koyamauchi’s words, “The routine of saying nothing happened in the past is the biggest enemy,” resonate heavily. In the second part of the article, “” Education and Training Must Change ……,” a warning bell sounded by a professional dignitary security guard who verified the crime scene of former Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Kishida,” he explains the reasons for the Abe & Kishida shooting incident from a professional bodyguard’s perspective.

Mr. Koyamauchi, who devoted himself to judo during his school days, was asked to wear earphones when he was at the scene. The thickness of his neck suggests that he trains on a regular basis, but what Mr. Koyamauchi values is to verify in advance “what kind of danger may be posed to the subject of the security.
International Association of Bodyguards (AICPO) identification card
Even when he goes to a restaurant in private, he chooses a seating position that can cope with a sudden accident.
  • Interview and text by Rie Ogasawara

    Rie Ogasawara is a national defense journalist. After graduating from Kansai Gaidai University, she worked as a freelance writer focusing on the Self-Defense Forces and security issues, and published a book titled "Self-Defense Forces Personnel Buy Toilet Paper at Bases with Their Own Money" (Fusosha Shinsho) in 2007. He was awarded the Seishi Sanshuji Award in the 15th "True Modern History" Essay Contest sponsored by the APA Foundation for the Rebuilding of Japan. Columnist for Sankei Shimbun's "Shimbun ni Kakaku! columnist for the Sankei Shimbun.

  • PHOTO Takero Shigumura (1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th pictures) Afro (2nd picture)

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