A newspaper photographer who was on the ground that day covering the election said, “I felt a sense of discomfort from the very beginning, when we were taking up our positions.
I have covered the visit of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress to Oita, but it was totally different. Obviously, the security was not as good as it could have been. When I arrived at Yamato Saidaiji Station at 10:00, there were only five or six people there. While I was wondering if it was safe for the don of the largest faction of the Liberal Democratic Party, the speech started and ……”
The number of SPs did not increase when Gen Nakagawa, 46, mayor of Nara City, arrived on the way.
I think the mayor had only one SP. There was also one for Mr. Abe (Shinzo Abe, former prime minister at the age of 67). He didn’t stay still, but moved around Mr. Abe,” said an LDP official.
It took more than a year to prepare the homemade gun that would be used as the murder weapon. This was in contrast to Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, who had been test-firing guns until the day before and had been casing the venue an hour and a half before the speech.
When former Prime Minister Abe began his speech, Yamagami moved around the venue. When he found a blind spot, he stepped out onto the roadway with his hand-made gun drawn and pulled the trigger without hesitation.
The scene was noisy. Voices were heard calling for an ambulance and an AED. The following is the testimony of a campaign staff member who was nearby.
When I turned around at the sound of the first shot, a second bullet was fired, piercing Abe’s neck and causing him to collapse. When I quickly approached him, he was still breathing and struggling, ‘Ugh, ugh,’ but his throat was hit and he couldn’t speak. The nurse brought an AED and quickly attached it, but it did not work. It was because his heart had already stopped. At the same time, Abe’s body lost strength and his face became whiter and whiter. ……”
The suspect, Yamagami, was seized on the spot, but an ambulance arrived about six minutes later. The former prime minister was no longer moving.
An alumnus of the Nara Prefectural Police bit his lip.
At the press conference, Chief Superintendent Tomoaki Onizuka did not reveal the number of security personnel, but it seemed to be 20 to 30. A former prime minister-level dignitary would need more than double the number. This is a clear failure.”
Yoshihito Echizenya, a security consultant in the U.S. who served in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps, lamented, “There were a number of fatal flaws in the security plan.
The biggest mistake was the location of the speech. The biggest mistake was the location of the speech, where the back of the building was empty and buses and cars were running. The presence of moving objects increased the number of targets for surveillance and delayed the detection of suspicious persons. If there were circumstances that made it impossible to control traffic, a bulletproof vehicle should have been placed behind it. It is also questionable that emergency vehicles were not stationed nearby. There was not enough manpower. There were three personnel to protect themselves right next to the speaker. Three to four perimeter guards are needed for each block to keep an eye out for suspicious persons while constantly moving among the audience. From what I saw on the video, they were not enough at all; the alertness level was about 30%. The weapon used by the perpetrators was similar in construction to a flintlock rifle, which cannot fire continuously and has a short range. A normal security system would have been able to protect them without any problems.
The man who led the longest government in constitutional history also had his final days etched in history.
From the July 29 and August 5, 2022 issues of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Kyodo News (1st photo) Asahi Shimbun (doctor helicopter) Shinji Hasuo