Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida blamed the police for the death of former leader Shinzo Abe, who was shot last week while giving an outdoor campaign speech.
Abe, one of Japan’s most influential politicians, was killed last Friday in Nara in western Japan, shocking a nation known for its low crime rate and strict gun control. Photos and videos of the shooting show the gunman was able to approach Abe from behind while security guards were focused on the front.
“I think there were problems with the security measures,” Kishida said.
Officials at the National Public Safety Commission and the National Police Agency are investigating what went wrong and will draw up measures in response, Kishida said. A team of national police officials arrived at Nara prefectural police headquarters on Thursday for the investigation.
“I urge them to do a thorough inspection and fix what needs to be fixed, also studying examples in other countries,” he said.
Kishida also announced plans to hold a state funeral for Abe later this year, noting his contributions to the country and to Japan’s growing security alliance with the United States. Abe’s nationalist views fueled the ruling party’s conservative policies.
“By holding a state funeral in memory of former Prime Minister Abe, Japan will show its determination not to succumb to violence and resolutely defend democracy,” Kishida said. “Japan will also show the world its determination to maintain its energy and open a path to the future.”
A smaller funeral ceremony was held at a temple in Tokyo on Tuesday. A state ceremony would be only the second for a prime minister since World War II, following one for Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1967.
The use of tax money for the state funeral of the divisive leader drew mixed reactions from opposition leaders. Democratic People’s Party leader Yuichiro Tamaki said much comfort was received from abroad and the plan is understandable, but Ichiro Matsui, head of Japan’s Innovation Party, said it would require a lot of public money.
Abe was giving a speech in support of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party candidate in last Sunday’s parliamentary election when he was shot. The party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, won a landslide victory in the polls, helped in part by sympathy votes for Abe. But his absence could trigger a power struggle in the wing of the party he led, shaking the party’s stability.
A suspect was arrested shortly after the shooting and is being held for questioning for up to three weeks while prosecutors decide whether to file murder charges.
The suspect reportedly told police he abandoned a plan to shoot Abe the day before at a speech in another city because of a request for bags to be checked at the entrance.
Police and media reports say he told investigators he killed Abe because of rumored ties between the former prime minister and a religious group the suspect hated. The suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was said to be upset because his mother made large donations to the Unification Church that bankrupted the family.
The assassination has shed light on the links between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, which is known for its conservative, anti-communist beliefs and mass weddings.
The Japanese branch of the South Korea-based church confirmed on Monday that Yamagami’s mother was a member and that Abe was not. Abe has appeared in video messages to church-affiliated groups.
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