Abe’s killing raises security concerns as Japan mourns former leader’s death – National | Globalnews.ca

A senior police official on Saturday acknowledged possible security lapses that allowed an assassin to fire his weapon at former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while he was on his way to a campaign rally, raising questions about how the attacker was able to get so close to him. .

Abe was shot in the western city of Nara on Friday and was airlifted to a hospital, but died of blood loss. Police arrested the attacker, a former member of the Japanese navy, at the scene. The police 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 was connected to an organization that bothers him, police said. Japanese media reported that the man had developed a hatred for a religious group that haunted his mother and caused financial problems for his family. The reports did not specify the group.

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

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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is assassinated while giving a speech

Nara Prefectural Police Chief Tomoaki Onizuka said Abe’s killing was his “biggest regret” in a 27-year career.

“I can’t deny that there were problems with our security,” Onizuka said. “Whether it’s a setup, an emergency response, or people’s capacity, we’ve yet to find out. Overall, there was an issue and we will review it from all perspectives.”

Abe’s assassination ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections 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.

A former Kyoto prefectural police investigator, Fumikazu Higuchi, said the footage suggested security was tight at the event and insufficient for a former prime minister.

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

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Click to play video: 'Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is shot dead during a campaign speech'

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Shot and Killed During a Campaign Speech

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Shot and Killed During a Campaign Speech

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

“It appears that the police were mainly focused on the front, while paying little attention to what was behind Mr. Abe, and no one stopped the suspect who was approaching him,” said Mitsuru Fukuda, a professor of crisis management at Nihon University. . “Clearly there were problems.”

Fukuda said election campaigns provide an opportunity for voters and politicians to interact because “political terrorism” was extremely rare in postwar Japan. But Abe’s killing could lead to tighter security at crowded events like drive-ins, sports games and more.

During a parliamentary debate in 2015, Abe resisted suggestions by an opposition lawmaker to beef up his security, insisting “Japan is a safe country.”

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In videos circulating on social media, Yamagami, 41, can be seen standing just a few meters (yards) behind Abe across a busy street, continually looking around.

A few minutes after Abe stood at the podium and began his speech, as a local party candidate and his supporters stood and waved to the crowd, Yamagami can be seen taking his gun out of a bag, walking towards Abe. and firing the first shot. that he released a cloud of smoke, but the projectile apparently missed Abe.

As Abe turned to see where the noise was coming from, a second shot was fired. That bullet apparently hit Abe’s left arm and missed a bulletproof briefcase held up by a security guard behind him.

Abe fell to the ground, his left arm tucked in as if to cover his chest. Campaign organizers shouted through loudspeakers calling for medical experts to provide Abe with first aid. His heart and breathing had stopped when he was airlifted to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

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Japan mourns assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe as election campaign resumes

Police said Saturday that autopsy results showed a bullet that entered Abe’s upper left arm damaged arteries under both collarbones, causing fatal massive bleeding.

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According to the Asahi newspaper, Yamagami was a contract worker at a warehouse in Kyoto, operating a forklift. He was described as a quiet person who did not mingle with his colleagues. A next-door neighbor in his apartment told Asahi that he had never met Yamagami, although he recalled hearing noises like the use of a saw several times late at night over the past month.

Japan is particularly known for its strict gun laws. With a population of 125 million, it had just 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, eight of them gang-related.

Even though he was out of office, Abe was still highly influential in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, heading its largest faction. But his ultra-nationalist views made him a divisive figure for many.

Abe resigned two years ago, blaming a recurrence of ulcerative colitis he had had since he was a teenager. He said he regretted leaving many of his goals unfinished, especially his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese kidnapped years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia and a revision of Japan’s renouncing war constitution.

That ultranationalism angered Korea and China, and his push to create what he saw as a more normal defense posture angered many Japanese liberals. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the US-drafted anti-war constitution due to poor public support.

Loyalists said his legacy was a stronger US-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan’s defense capabilities. Abe divided the public by forcing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament.

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Click to play video: 'Trudeau offers condolences to the family of Japan's Shinzo Abe, calls him a 'strong and compassionate leader'

Trudeau offers his condolences to the family of Japanese Shinzo Abe and calls him a “strong and compassionate leader”

Trudeau offers his condolences to the family of Japanese Shinzo Abe and calls him a “strong and compassionate leader”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who initially had a cool relationship with Abe, sent a message of condolences to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday, a day after most other world leaders issued their remarks.

Xi credited Abe for making efforts to improve China-Japan relations, saying he and Abe had reached an important understanding on building better ties, according to a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website. China. She also told Kishida that she is willing to work with him to continue developing neighborly relations and cooperation.

Abe was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military through a security alliance with the United States and a larger role in international affairs.

He became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, aged 52, but his first overly nationalistic term ended abruptly a year later, also because of his health, prompting a six-year annual leadership change.

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He returned to office in 2012, vowing to reinvigorate the nation and bring its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms. He won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power.

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