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‘Undeniable’ flaws in security for Abe: Police

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese police yesterday admitted there were “problems” with security for former prime minister Shinzo Abe, as his body arrived at his family home a day after he was assassinated on the campaign trail.

The country was in mourning for Japan’s longest-serving premier and well-wishers gathered to pay their respects, with senior politicians dressed in black arriving at Abe’s Tokyo residence to offer condolences.

But candidates also continued campaigning for the upper house election on Sunday, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida insisting: “We must never allow violence to suppress speech during elections, which are the foundation of democracy.”

The murder of Japan’s best-known politician has rattled the country and sent shockwaves around the world, particularly given the nation’s low levels of violent crime and strict gun laws.

Police are still piecing together details of the man who opened fire at close range on Friday, but the 41-year-old named as Tetsuya Yamaguchi has confessed to killing the former premier, motivated by a belief Abe was linked to an unspecified organisation.

A person touches a photo of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at a makeshift memorial in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP

The tearful head of police in the Nara region where Abe was killed admitted yesterday there were “undeniable” flaws in security for the former leader.

“I believe it is undeniable that there were problems with the guarding and safety measures for former prime minister Abe,” said head of the Nara prefectural police Tomoaki Onizuka pledging a “thorough investigation”.

“In all the years since I became a police officer in 1995… there is no greater remorse, no bigger regret than this,” he said.

Early on Saturday afternoon, Abe’s body arrived at his home, where mourners like Tetsuya Hamada gathered to offer prayers and flowers.

“I am stunned that things like this still take place in Japan,” he told AFP.

“It makes me sad. How it is possible that this happened in broad daylight?”

Japan’s upper house election will go ahead as planned on Sunday, and Kishida calling on supporters to “help us until the very end”.

But Abe’s death cast a long shadow, and at the scene of his murder, 52-year-old Kayoko Ueda was wiping away tears and described herself as “distraught”.

“I couldn’t believe something like this could actually happen in Japan,” she said.

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