The security hole in Mr. Abe’s shooting

The security forces are thin, lack of vigilance, while the crowd can get too close, are the openings for the gunman to close to shoot Mr. Shinzo Abe.

“In Japan, shootings are extremely rare. Paradoxically, this fact makes it so easy for an assassin,” said William Cleary, a criminal law expert at Hiroshima Shudo University in Japan. Comment on the security hole in the case of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe being shot today.

The last time a current or former Japanese prime minister was assassinated was 90 years ago. Gun crime and violence in Japan are rare, due to the country’s strict gun control policy.

According to GunPolicy, a website that aggregates information on gun control policies in the world, as of 2019, Japan, a country with more than 125 million people, has about 310,400 guns in circulation. The gun ownership rate in the country is 0.25% of the population, one of the lowest in the world.

The scene where Mr. Abe was shot in Nara city on July 8.  Photo: Reuters.

dThe scene where Mr. Abe was shot in Nara city on July 8. Image: Reuters.

Japan last year recorded 10 gun-related cases, including one death. The Tokyo area hasn’t had any gun-related cases in the past year, according to the National Police Agency.

Expert Cleary believes that this fact is likely to have created a subjective and unguarded mentality of the security forces protecting former Prime Minister Abe when he arrived in Nara city today to give a speech in front of the local station. . This is part of the election campaign for the Senate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Video and photos from the moment before Mr Abe was shot showed large crowds surrounding the former prime minister at close range, while his bodyguards consisted of only a few people. They are members of the Security Police force, under the Tokyo Police Department, specializing in protecting the weak in this country.

However, they did not take any action to ensure distance between Mr. Abe and the crowd. Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 years old, a former soldier with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, with a homemade double-barreled gun mixed into the crowd, approaching Mr. Abe at a distance of 5 meters before shooting.

Video at the scene shows that after Yamagami fired the first shot, the bodyguards around Mr. Abe had almost no reaction. While they were trying to determine what was going on, the suspect fired a second shot, knocking Mr Abe to the ground.

Only at this point, the bodyguards rushed in to control the suspect with their bare hands. They carried guns at their waists, but did not draw them. At least one of Abe’s bodyguards was armed with a bulletproof shield, but did not deploy.

“The security net is clearly too open. The assassination will certainly make the Japanese authorities tighten security even more, especially for outdoor lectures because the country is in the election season,” Cleary admitted. determined.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 'shot down'

The moment the suspect opened fire on former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara Prefecture on July 8. Video:Twitter/Handy Joe.

Tobias Harris, an expert on Japan and has written a book on Shinzo Abe, said that politicians having close contact with voters is a common political culture in this country.

“He’s a well-known former prime minister, so he still has more security staff. However, the security team assigned to him cannot be compared to a politician with a similar position in the country. America,” Harris said.

Paul Nadeau, editor of the Tokyo Review magazine and lecturer at Japan’s Temple University, said he was present at some of Mr. Abe’s campaigning events. A feature of the meetings between the former Japanese prime minister and the people is the low density of security personnel, and people are gathered near the place where he spoke.

“The feeling of danger or insecurity never arises. The closeness and openness of these events is what has always fascinated me about Japanese politics,” Nadeau said.

Police control suspect Tetsuya Yamagami (gray shirt) at the scene.  Photo: AFP.

The bodyguard with bare hands rushed to control the gunman Tetsuya Yamagami (gray shirt) at the scene. Image: AFP.

The level of security for political elites has been a controversial issue for years. In the 2015 article, Nikkei Asia Japan “needs stronger security forces than police armed with standard handguns, especially when protecting the weak”.

The police guarding parliament are also armed with handguns. The Japanese police’s rapid response and counter-terrorism forces, including the SWAT and ERT, are equipped with machine guns, but are deployed only in exceptional emergencies, usually after a security incident has passed. happen.

This is not the first time a Japanese politician has been attacked. In 1932, Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was murdered in his office by a naval officer, when the pro-militarist faction wanted to provoke a war between Japan and the United States. The last time a Japanese politician was shot dead was in 2007, when the mayor of Nagasaki was shot in front of a local train station.

Former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, grandfather of Mr. Shinzo Abe, was assassinated by someone with links to far-right groups in Japan in 1960. This man attacked Mr. Kishi in his office with a knife.

Benoit Hardy-Chatrand, a lecturer at Temple University, called the Nara shooting a “traumatic and unbelievable” event. He shared that the assassination was extremely strange information to daily life in Japan.

“We have never experienced gun violence. This is one of the places with the lowest homicide rate in the world. Today’s events are shocking to everyone, especially because the victim is Shinzo Abe, one of the most important politicians in postwar Japan’s history,” he said.

Name (Theo Bloomberg, TIME, Nikkei Asia)

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