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Japan PM blames police for death of Shinzo Abe

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida yesterday blamed inadequate police protection for the death of former leader Shinzo Abe, who was shot last week while giving an outdoor campaign speech.

Abe, one of Japan’s most influential politicians, was assassinated last Friday in western Japan, shocking a nation known for its low crime rate. Photos and videos of the shooting show the gunman was able to come close to Abe from behind, while security guards were focussed toward the front. “I think there were problems with the security measures,” Kishida said.

Officials at the National Public Safety Commission and National Police Agency are investigating what went wrong and will compile measures in response, Kishida said.

“I urge them to carry out a thorough inspection and fix what needs to be fixed, while also studying examples in other countries,” he said.

Kishida also announced plans to hold a state funeral for Abe later this year, noting his contributions at home and in boosting Japan’s security alliance with the United States. Abe’s nationalistic views drove the governing party’s conservative policies.

A hearse transporting the body of late former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe drives past the Diet Building in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP

“By holding a state funeral in memory of former Prime Minister Abe, Japan will show its determination not to cave in to violence and to firmly defend democracy,” Kishida said.

“Japan will also show to the world its determination to keep up its vigour and open a path towards the future.” A smaller funeral ceremony was held at a temple in Tokyo on Tuesday.

A suspect was arrested immediately after Abe was shot and is being held for up to three weeks for questioning until prosecutors decide whether to press murder charges.

The suspect reportedly told police that he abandoned a plan to shoot Abe a day earlier at a speech in another city because of a requirement that bags be checked at the entrance.

Police and media reports say he told investigators that he killed Abe because of rumoured links between the former prime minister and a religious group the suspect hated.

The suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was reportedly upset because his mother made large donations to the Unification Church that bankrupted the family.