World Japan's police chief resigns over Shinzo Abe assassination

Japan’s police chief resigns over Shinzo Abe assassination

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Japan’s national police chief announced his resignation Thursday, taking responsibility for failing to prevent the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July. File Photo by Kimimasa Mayama/EPA-EFE

Aug. 25 (BP) — Japan’s national police chief announced his resignation on Thursday, taking responsibility for failing to prevent the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month.

Itaru Nakamura, general commissioner of the National Police Agency, made the announcement at a press conference for a report on security lapses at the July 8 election rally where Abe was shot twice by a man with a homemade firearm.

“As we advance new security arrangements, it is a matter of course to go at it with a new lineup of people,” Nakamura said, according to Kyodo News.

The police agency’s report found that a change in the positioning of officers ahead of Abe’s speech outside a train station in the western city of Nara left him vulnerable to the attack.

The suspected assailant, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, approached Abe from behind and fired at close range while the former prime minister was delivering a campaign speech ahead of parliamentary elections.

The report concluded that there was a “high possibility” that the attack could have been prevented if police had identified the risks ahead of time.

Shootings in Japan are extremely rare, as the country has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. The incident shocked the nation and raised questions about its relaxed security practices for high-profile figures.

Thursday’s police report called for enhanced training in VIP and dignitary protection and urged updates to police protection guidelines.

Nakamura said in a July press conference that he had “seriously taken to heart that police could not live up to our responsibilities.”

“I think I truly bear a heavy responsibility,” he said.

The alleged shooter was arrested at the scene and has been undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, which could take months to complete.

Yamagami told police that he held a grudge against Abe for what he believed to be support for a religious organization. The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, formerly known as the Unification Church, has confirmed Yamagami’s mother is a member.

Abe, 67, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, holding office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 until 2020, when he resigned due to recurring health issues.

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