Japan: Security flawed around former president

Japanese police have admitted there were flaws in the security for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead in the southern city of Nara on Friday.

“It is undeniable that there were problems in the security,” said Nara police chief Tomoaki Onizuka.

A gunman opened fire on Abe at a political campaign event – a crime that has profoundly shocked Japan.

Sunday’s elections for the upper house are going ahead as planned.

Voting began at 7 a.m. local time, just two days after Abe’s assassination.

Analysts suggest his killing could boost support for the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), for which Abe was a leading and hugely influential figure.

Elections for Japan’s less-powerful upper house of parliament are typically seen as a referendum on the current government. But a big victory for the LDP would strengthen the current prime minister’s ability to push though his key policies, including a doubling of defence spending.

Police say the suspect, named as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, held a grudge against a “specific organisation”.

Japanese media quote sources close to the investigation, who say Yamagami believed Abe to be linked to a religious group which, Yamagami alleged, had ruined his mother financially.

The suspect has admitted shooting Abe with a homemade gun, according to police.

“The urgent matter is for us to conduct a thorough investigation to clarify what happened,” police chief Onizuka said, without specifying where he saw failings. He was on the verge of tears, addressing journalists.

Yamagami told police he had served in Japan’s navy, the Maritime Self-Defense Force, for three years. More recently, he had worked at a factory in western Japan.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and died aged 67. He was campaigning for the LDP in the run-up to upper house parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also an LDP member, said he was “simply speechless”, vowing that Japan’s democracy would “never yield to violence”.

He said the election campaign would continue on Saturday with tightened security, with Sunday’s vote still set to go ahead. (BBC)

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