Japan’s Response to Deadly Gunshot Has Grabbed Global Attention: Yomiuri Shimbun


TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has drawn heartfelt condolences from many countries. In contrast, the lack of an international perspective in Japan’s response was conspicuous.

The reaction of the police authorities is symbolic of this. On July 12, the National Police Agency assembled a team to investigate the security system in place at the time of the attack. In his first press conference after the shooting, NPA Commissioner-General Itaru Nakamura said, “We have failed in our responsibilities as police.”

Four days had passed since the incident. It must be said that the NPA’s response was too slow. Filming took place in full view of the public, and videos captured by people at the scene of the crime circulated around the world via social media. Many people in Japan and overseas are wondering why the attack was not prevented.

Despite this, the NPA has left public statements to the Nara Prefectural Police in charge of the investigation. There was a lack of awareness that the situation was damaging Japan’s image as a safe country and undermining trust in the agency.

Abe was attacked outside a train station in central Nara City in a location with 360 degrees of open space around him. The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, approached the scene from behind and opened fire.

The site has been used multiple times for campaign speeches in the past. Was security surprised because there had been no problems in the past? Shouldn’t they have protected Abe in some way, like putting a big vehicle behind him?

Abe was knocked out by the second shot. It is said to be an ironclad rule that if a shot or explosion is heard, security personnel should immediately bring the person being guarded to the ground. Why wasn’t that acted after the first shot this time?

The G7 summit is scheduled to take place in Hiroshima City next year. It would be a great loss for the country if foreign dignitaries and others visiting Japan in the future felt uncomfortable about the security here.

During the campaign for the previous House of Councilors election, a man and woman who molested Abe during a blunt speech were removed by Hokkaido Prefectural Police. In response, the Sapporo District Court ordered the Hokkaido government to pay damages for the illegal security measures.

The verdict recognized the freedom of expression of those who shouted, but what about the rights of listeners who wanted to listen in private? It is not clear whether the ruling this time has influenced the decisions of Abe’s security team, but it is necessary to pinpoint the need for relevant regulations.

After Abe’s death, US President Joe Biden immediately ordered flags to be flown at half-mast at federal government facilities. India also hoisted flags at half-mast in various places. However, the Japanese government did so just three days after Abe’s death in the prime minister’s office. It is unfortunate that the response was so slow.

The government must be aware that Japan’s response to the attack has drawn the attention of the international community.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media organizations.

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