Security Team Failed to Communicate Lack of Guard Behind Abe

The Yomiuri Shinbun File photo
the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Tokyo, Aug. 5 (Jiji Press)—The on-site commander for security for the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not aware of the absence of a guard in charge of protecting Abe from behind when he was shot last month, National Police Agency officials said Friday.

Abe was shot from behind during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara on July 8 and confirmed dead later in the day.

A guard made a decision to move another guard who was supposed to be protecting Abe from behind to a different place but the change was not notified to the commander, the NPA officials said.

The officials also said that the security team put excessive focus on dealing with the crowd in front of Abe and failed to pay attention to possible attacks from behind when drawing up security plans.

The NPA believes that insufficient security plans and communication failures at the site resulted in allowing the 41-year-old suspected shooter, Tetsuya Yamagami, to come near Abe.

The agency has been examining flaws in security for Abe. It plans to release the outcome and measures to prevent any recurrence of a similar case later this month.

When the shooting took place, there were about a dozen guards at the site, according to the NPA officials.

Of them, four guards—one from Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department and three from the Nara prefectural police department—were inside the space surrounded by guardrails where Abe gave the speech. There were no uniformed police officers in the space.

Initially, a guard from the prefectural police department was in charge of guarding Abe from behind. The guard, who was stationed on a roadway outside the space surrounded by guardrails, moved to the space before the start of Abe’s speech to deal with the crowd on Abe’s right side as ordered by another guard. The order was made after the crowd of the audience to Abe’s right side started growing.

This change in the security arrangement was not reported to the on-site commander over the radio. Therefore, the commander could not take measures such as placing another guard for rear security.

The NPA also believes that the commander failed to give instructions properly.

Each of the four guards in the space was 2 to 5 meters away from Abe and could not move to protect Abe after the suspect fired the first of two shots. The NPA believes that the commander should have placed guards closer to Abe.