Police admit security flaws as Japan mourns Shinzo Abe’s death

NARA/TOKYO: Police acknowledged security vulnerabilities on Saturday in the Japanese city of Nara, where the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated, when a convoy carrying his body arrived at his home in Tokyo.
Mourning mourners gathered at his residence and at the scene of Friday’s tragedy in the western city of Nara, where Japan’s longest-serving modern leader was shot down in a major act of violence. rare while giving a campaign speech.
Police arrested a 41-year-old man shortly after Abe was shot at close range with a homemade gun. The local police force managing the campaign event said on Saturday that there had been shortcomings in security arrangements.
“We can’t deny that there is a problem with the security plan because of how it ends,” Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka told a press conference.
“I feel a serious responsibility,” he said, adding that police would analyze exactly what happened and make any necessary changes.
Dignits in Japan often travel with modest security details, mainly focused on direct physical threats rather than by heavily armed personnel preparing for attacks. Gun attacks are common in places like the United States.
On Friday, Nippon Television quoted Nara police as saying Abe was protected at the rally by an armed police officer and several other local officers. Nara police declined to say how many officers were handling security for Abe.
Elections for seats in Japan’s upper house are underway as scheduled for Sunday, with the vote expected to yield victory for the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishidaan Abe supporter.
Kishida was back on the campaign trail visiting constituencies after an emergency return to Tokyo on Friday following the shooting.
A metal detection scanner, not normally seen at election events in a largely crime-free Japan, has been installed at a site in the city of Fujiyoshida, where Kishida will speak during the campaign. run for election. There is also a police presence.
In Nara, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of Tokyo, a long line of people lined up to place flowers on a table next to a photo of Abe.
“I’m just shocked when this kind of thing happens in Nara,” said Natsumi Niwaa 50-year-old housewife, after placing flowers with her 10-year-old son near the scene of a murder outside a downtown train station.
Niwa said Abe, a conservative and architect of “Abenomics” policies aimed at reinventing the economy, inspired the name of her son, Masakuni. Abe once praised Japan as a “beautiful country”. “Kuni” means country in Japanese.
A night vigil will be held on Monday. Media said Abe’s funeral will take place on Tuesday, attended by close friends. There was no immediate word on any public memorials.
Police are scrambling to piece together the details of the suspect’s motives and his preparation for the crime.
Police told local media on Saturday that the suspect believes the former Japanese leader has links to a religious group he blames for ruining his mother’s finances, police told reporters. local media.
According to media reports, he spent months planning the attack, even attending other events of the Abe campaign, including a day that took place some 200 kilometers earlier. mile).
Analysts said the gun he used was easy to make from readily available materials like wood and metal tubing, showing the difficulty of eliminating such threats even in one country. where tough laws mean very few people buy or own guns.
Eurasia Group analysts wrote in an election Sunday that “raises the prospect of stronger voter turnout and greater support for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)”.
The LDP, where Abe retains considerable influence, was expected to win the seat before the assassination. Abe, 67, a two-time prime minister, resigned citing poor health on both occasions.
But he remains a member of parliament and an influential leader in the LDP after stepping down for a second time in 2020.
James Brady, vice president of consulting firm Teneo, said a strong LDP election result “could catalyze further Abe’s unfulfilled goal of amending Japan’s constitution to allow the military have a stronger role”.
Kishida visited Abe’s residence in Tokyo to pay his respects on Saturday, Kyodo The news agency reported, along with mourners clutching flowers and party officials bowing as the hearse carrying his body arrived.
Abe’s death has sent condolences from across governments and from around the world.
The Quad, a group of countries aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region that Abe was instrumental in establishing, expressed shock at the assassination in a joint statement.
“We will honor Prime Minister Abe’s memory by doubling down on our work towards a region of peace and prosperity,” said the group, which includes Japan, India, Australia and the United States.
President of China Xi Jinping also expressed gratitude to Abe, who he said had worked hard to improve relations between the neighbours, Chinese state media reported.

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