Use Lessons Learned from Incident to Make Society Safer

One year has passed since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed. The incident has highlighted important issues and challenges. These must be dealt with systematically in order to work toward a safer society.

Abe died July 8 last year after being shot with a homemade gun during a campaign speech on a Nara City street.

Following the incident, a system was introduced in which the National Police Agency checks the proposed security plans of prefectural police for speeches by key government officials. However, in April this year, an explosive device was thrown toward Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Wakayama City.

Both cases were so-called lone offender attacks, in which an individual fashions a weapon and commits an offence alone. The suspect in the Kishida case is believed to have been aware of the circumstances surrounding Abe’s slaying.

There is a tendency, particularly on social media, to offer excessive sympathy for or view as heroes people who have committed serious crimes. This tendency may be a contributing factor to the cycle of violence.

Society must share the understanding that violence is unacceptable for any reason, while strengthening countermeasures.

We live in an age in which anyone can learn how to manufacture guns and explosives using information posted online. Efforts must be promoted to use artificial intelligence to detect and delete dangerous information. Utilizing drones to monitor events such as election speeches may also be an effective measure.

Abe’s case brought to light that many followers of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — formerly known as the Unification Church — have repeatedly donated large sums of money to the organization, leaving their families impoverished. The Cultural Affairs Agency is continuing its investigation into the group with an eye on asking the courts to issue a dissolution order.

The agency needs to scrutinize the organization and its malignancy and reach a firm conclusion.

The power balance within the Liberal Democratic Party has changed after the incident. Within the Abe faction, veteran Diet members have been holding each other in check, and a successor to replace Abe as faction chairman has yet to be determined.

With such a situation, the faction will unlikely be able to influence policy and personnel matters within the LDP, despite being the largest faction with more than 100 members.

As an iconic figure among conservative elements of the party, Abe’s words and actions have, in some respects, given rise to tensions for Kishida, a prime minister from the liberal-leaning Kochikai faction. It is regrettable that the prime minister’s administration has seemed somewhat heavy handed, perhaps because Abe-related pressures have been removed, causing a decline in the Cabinet’s approval rating.

A plan to abolish health insurance cards and integrate their functionality into My Number identification cards has caused widespread confusion. Regardless, the government is plowing ahead with its policy to abolish the health insurance card in the autumn of 2024, causing grave concerns among the public.

Political stability is of the utmost importance if the government is to properly address various domestic and foreign issues. The prime minister needs to manage his administration with care.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 8, 2023)