Tragedy Could Have Been Prevented, A Criminologist’s Thoughts On The Shooting of Former Prime Minister Abe | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Tragedy Could Have Been Prevented, A Criminologist’s Thoughts On The Shooting of Former Prime Minister Abe

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The attack could have been prevented with “Defender X” and “zoning”

On July 8, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was attacked while giving a speech in support of his election in Nara City. It is surprising that such an incident took place in Japan.

There were a number of measures that could have been taken to prevent it,” said criminologist Nobuo Komiya.

One of them is the “Defender X.” When nervous, transient “tremors” appear on the skin of the face due to mental stress. Defender X is software that detects these “tremors.” When the software detects this behavior, a red frame surrounds the person on the screen.

“It is difficult to quickly identify a person who is acting suspiciously in the presence of hundreds of people. But with the Defender X, you might be able to spot them.”

“We could have detected criminals if we had attached it in advance to security cameras at train stations, roundabouts in front of train stations, or on campaign cars.”

Funeral service at Zojoji Temple for former Prime Minister Abe, who was shot and killed (Photo: Afro)He says there were also problems with the way security was provided.

“One important method of preventing crime is called ‘zoning,’ which is also known as ‘multi-layered defense.’ For example, in this case, in addition to SPs, election volunteers were placed in zones.”

“The first layer, closest to the target, is for the invited people, and the second layer is for the general public. This way, it would be difficult for the general public to approach the target. The more of these layers there are, the more ironclad the defense will be.”

“In Europe and the U.S., zoning is commonplace, but in Japan, the concept of zoning is lacking. The fact that people can easily get up close and personal means that zoning is not in place.”

Analysis of footage of the 2013 Boston Marathon suicide bombers. The system is capable of detecting suspicious persons not only from real-time surveillance video, but also from past video recordings (from the website of ELSYS JAPAN Corporation).

The “Meaning” of the Increase in Suicide Bomber-Type Crimes

Although there is a lot of talk about security, Komiya says that this is symptomatic and not a fundamental solution to prevent such incidents.

“In this case, it was a suicide bomber-type crime. The perpetrators are not thinking about escaping. They think it’s okay to get caught.”

“And suicide bombing-type crimes have been increasing in recent years. I think the time has come for us to be aware of the fact that these are suicide bomber-type crimes and to seriously consider them.”


The day before the incident involving former Prime Minister Abe, a junior high school girl was slashed by a man in Sendai. The perpetrator said that he intended to commit murder and go to jail, which indicates that he did it with the intention of getting caught.

On June 21, a man held an employee hostage in an Internet cafe in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture; in February, a clinic arson in Osaka; in November 2021, arson on the Keio Line. In 2019, there was a case of slashing children and parents at Caritas Elementary School in Kawasaki City and a case of Kyoto animation murder and arson.

“The number of suicide bombing-type crimes is gradually increasing, and their frequency is shrinking.”

“Then, in the Osaka Clinic arson case, the target was identified to a great extent, and the stage of suicide bombing-type crimes was raised one step.”

“This case was an extension of those incidents against celebrities, so the signs were there.”

Yamagami’s mother was in dire poverty and went bankrupt around 2002 (Photo: Kei Kato)

“IT education for the unemployed. Transforming the industrial structure and eliminating poverty will eliminate crime.”

Why were they left with no choice but to commit crimes? If we don’t think from this perspective, says Komiya, suicide bombing-type crimes will continue to increase.

“The suicide bomber is a person who despairs of his or her future and wants to end up fighting back against society. The suspect in this case, even if he had a grudge against a religious group, would not have committed the crime if he was satisfied with his current life.”

“Poverty in Japan is now getting worse. Its GDP per capita ranks 28th, and it is no longer a developed country. So the most critical situation is for people in their 30s and 40s. If you lose your job in your 40s, you are in trouble.”

“On the other hand, people with IT skills are needed in various industries. We should provide unemployed people with proper IT training and support them in finding employment. Until they find a job, we should introduce a basic income to provide them with a minimum level of security. This will prevent poverty, reduce the number of suicide bomber-type crimes, and change the industrial structure.”

Digitalization also needs to be promoted as soon as possible, he said.

“The reason Japan’s economy is not growing is that digitalization is lagging behind. Productivity is not increasing because we are forever relying on stamps and faxes to do our work. Because productivity is low, wages remain low.”

“I feel that the current press is ‘seeing the trees and not the forest.’ Instead of repeating tongue-wagging about the motives behind individual incidents, it is time to turn our attention to the backgrounds that are common to all of these incidents.”

“If we do not go beyond symptomatic treatment to curative treatment, Japan will not improve economically and suicide bombing-type crimes will increase.”


Nobuo Komiya Professor of Criminology at Rissho University. Doctor in Sociology. He was the first Japanese to graduate from the Graduate School of Criminology at the University of Cambridge. He worked in the Information Systems Division of Honda Motor Co. He is a second-class information processing engineer (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). Inventor of the “Community Safety Map.” He has served as the chairman of the National Police Agency’s Research and Study Group on Safe and Secure Community Development and as the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Delinquency Prevention and Victimization Prevention Education Committee.


His representative publications include “Crime Prevention in the World through Photographs: Ruins, Design, and Community Planning” (Shogakukan, selected book by the National School Library Association), “Crime Can Be Predicted” (Shincho Shinsho), NHK “Close-up Today”, Nippon Television “Sekaiichi Uketai Jugyou”, etc. He has appeared on television, been interviewed by newspapers, and given numerous lectures throughout Japan.

Click here for “Nobuo Komiya’s Criminology Room” on hiswebsiteand YouTube channel.

Click here to purchase “Crime Prevention in the World through Photographs:Ruins, Design, and Community Planning” (Shogakukan)

  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa

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