A top police officer has acknowledged possible security flaws that allowed a killer to fire his gun former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while addressing a campaign rally, wondering how the attacker could get so close behind him.
Abe was shot Friday in the western city of Nara and flown to a hospital but died of blood loss. Police arrested the attacker, a former member of Japanese navy, on site. Law enforcement confiscated his homemade gun and several others were later found in his apartment.

The attacker, Tetsuya Yamagami, told investigators he acted because he believed rumors that Abe had ties to an organization he disliked, police said.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was delivering a speech when he was gunned down on Friday and later died in hospital. (Delivered)

Japanese media reported that the man had developed hatred for a religious group his mother was obsessed with and which caused his family financial problems. The group was not specified in the reports.

On Saturday, a black hearse containing Abe’s body and accompanied by his wife, Akie, arrived at his home in the upscale residential district of Shibuya in Tokyo. Many mourners, including senior Party officials, waited for his remains and lowered their heads as the vehicle passed by.

Nara Prefecture Police Chief Tomoaki Onizuka said Abe’s murder was his “greatest regret” in a 27-year career. “I can’t deny that there were issues with our security,” Onizuka said.

“Whether it was intentional, emergency, or individuals’ ability, we have yet to find out. Overall, there was a problem and we’ll look at it from every perspective.”

A hearse supposed to transport the body of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his home in Tokyo on Saturday, July 9, 2022
A hearse supposed to transport the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his home in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The assassination of Abe ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary election shocked the nation and raised questions about whether the former prime minister’s security was adequate.

Some observers who watched videos of the attack noted a lack of attention in the open space behind Abe as he spoke.

Fumikazu Higuchi, a former Kyoto prefecture police investigator, said the images suggested security at the event was scarce and insufficient for a former prime minister.

“It is necessary to investigate why security allowed Yamagami to move freely and go after Mr. Abe,” Higuchi said on a Nippon TV talk show.

A senior Japanese police commander has admitted possible flaws in the security operation to protect Shinzo Abe. (AP)

Experts also said Abe was more vulnerable standing on the ground, rather than on top of a campaign vehicle, which is usually the case, but was reportedly unavailable due to his hastily arranged visit to Nara.

“It seems that the police mainly focused on the front, paying little attention to what is behind Mr Abe, and no one stopped the suspect from approaching him,” said Mitsuru Fukuda, a crisis management professor at Nihon. university.

“Clearly there were problems.”

Fukuda said election campaigns offer voters and politicians a chance to communicate with each other because “political terrorism” was extremely rare in post-war Japan.

Tetsuya Yamagami, center, gun in hand, is being held near the shooting site in Nara, western Japan, on Friday, July 8, 2022.
The attacker, Tetsuya Yamagami, told investigators he acted because he believed rumors that Shinzo Abe had ties to an organization he disliked, police said. (Nara Shimbun/Kyodo News via AP)

But Abe’s murder could lead to tighter security at crowded events like campaigns, sports matches and others.

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During a parliamentary debate in 2015, Abe opposed suggestions from an opposition MP to bolster his security, stressing that “Japan is a safe country.”

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