Japan Police Report Reveals Inadequacies in Security Plan for PM’s Campaign Visit to Wakayama

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Police officers seize suspect Ryuji Kimura after an explosive device was thrown toward Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Wakayama in April.

The security plan for a stump speech to be delivered by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a port in Wakayama in April was formulated based on the erroneous assumption that the audience would comprise “related parties only,” according to a National Police Agency report released Thursday.

A man was arrested at the venue for throwing an explosive device toward Kishida.

The report also revealed that checks on outsiders’ comings and goings were left to the event’s organizer.

According to the report, the Wakayama prefectural police met three days before the event with the Liberal Democratic Party’s prefectural chapter, among others, and asked them to set up a reception desk to conduct visitor checks. However, the chapter refused this request, saying the audience would be limited to members of the fishing cooperative and their families. The police then formulated its security plan on the assumption that the audience would be limited to related parties.

On the day of the speech, fishery cooperative staffers were supposed to visually identify visitors at the entrance of the audience where the speech was to be given. However, the attack suspect Ryuji Kimura — who is currently being detained for examination of his mental competence to bear criminal responsibility — entered the area without being stopped and subsequently threw the explosive object toward Kishida from a distance of about 10 meters.

Police security guards present near the entrance were monitoring the audience’s behavior in the belief that members of the cooperative were checking who was entering the venue.

The report concluded: “The security plan only reflected the results of the advance meetings and did not include effective safety measures to prevent people with dangerous objects from approaching the prime minister.”

Following the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July last year, the NPA adopted a system in which it examines security plans submitted by prefectural police departments. However, it failed to detect the shortfalls in the Wakayama police’s plan.

“We’re treating the matter very seriously given that the incident occurred less than a year [since ex-Prime Minister Abe’s death],” NPA Commissioner General Yasuhiro Tsuyuki said at a press conference.