Nara police chief: Biggest regret during my career as a police officer

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka bowed during a press conference on Saturday in Nara.

NARA — Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka expressed deep regret over Friday’s fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a press conference at the police headquarters on Saturday. Speaking of his intention to examine the police response, Onizuka said, “I take this incident extremely seriously and feel my deep responsibility. This was the most regretful incident during my 27-year career as a police officer.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nara prefectural police chief Tomoaki Onizuka speaks during a press conference on Saturday in Nara.

Asked about problems with the response of the prefectural police, Onizuka said, “We can’t deny that there were problems with our protection. Whether the problems were in our security structure, deployment, emergency response, or individual capabilities, I believe it is necessary to quickly identify the problems and consider measures to strengthen protection.”

Regarding the process of creating and approving the plan to protect the former prime minister, Onizuka said, “[The protection request] came in suddenly, and a protection plan was quickly made on Thursday. I was informed of the plan Friday morning. I reviewed and approved the plan.”

When asked about whether the police had visited the site before the incident, Onizuka replied, “The site has often been used for election campaigns in the past. Our security personnel know the place well. I don’t know if they went there for a preliminary inspection.”

Asked if adequate measures were taken to protect Abe from behind, Onizuka said, “We must be prepared for all kinds of risks. We must check how we responded to the threat from the back.”

About whether he would resign, Onizuka said, “I think it’s my responsibility at this time to lead the investigation to uncover the truth.”