While Terrorism within the nation of Japan is rare, it does happen. Since 1972 there have been at least 8 deadly attacks by members of the Japanese Read Army, and in 1995 the Tokyo subway was the center of a deadly Sarin gas attack that killed 12 and wounded over 5,500. Twenty-six subway stations were closed and two lines were shut down as well, effectively grinding the city’s morning commute to a halt. In the coming weeks up to 1/3 of the entire Japanese police force was used to track down and capture members of the Japanese Aum Shinri Kyo religious sect that had committed the attack.
In order to curb or stop such activities, the Japanese National Police formed the “Special Assault Team” in April of 1996. Previously, two prefectures had had a Special Unit tasked with counter-terrorism, but under the new arrangement and unit, each of the seven prefectures ( similar to states or provinces ) has at least one platoon of SAT members. There are ten platoons, each is staffed with 20 members, for a total force of 200 operators.
The SAT is mandated, along with the Anti-Firearms Squad and the Counter-NBC Terrorism Squad, for counterterrorism missions and incidents involving firearms or criminals which require an armed response beyond the capabilities of local law enforcement in Japan. Most information on the unit has been confidential, its existence officially revealed only in 1996.
SAT members are considered very proficient in their abilities and frequently train with the French GIGN. Not much is known about this unit in the west but it is known that they are proficient in building and tubular ( bus, train, and airplane ) assaults as well as various insertion methods including helicopter rappelling.
Each SAT division consists of a Command section, Assault section, Sniping section, and Technical Support section.
The Assault section executes assaults and suspects apprehension. The Sniping section provides reconnaissance and precision fire. The Technical Support section operates and maintains communications and surveillance equipment. The technical support group is in charge of electronic equipment such as microphones and cameras. The command section is responsible for tactical planning.