The 2.5 seconds that sealed the fate of Japan’s Shinzo Abe |  Crime news

The 2.5 seconds that sealed the fate of Japan’s Shinzo Abe | Crime news

Bodyguards could have rescued former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if they shielded him or removed him from the firing line within 2.5 seconds between a missed first shot and the second round of gunshot wounds, according to eight security experts who have reviewed footage of the former Japanese prime minister. assassination.

The failure to protect Abe from the second shot followed what appeared to be a series of security breaches ahead of the assassination of Japan’s longest-serving leader on July 8, Japanese and international experts said.

Abe’s killing in the western city of Nara of a man using a homemade weapon shocked a nation where gun violence is rare and politicians campaign close to the public with easy security.

Japanese authorities – including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – have acknowledged that security is gone, and police say they are investigating.

In addition to the security experts, the news agency Reuters spoke with six witnesses on the spot and examined several videos available online, taken from different angles, to put together a detailed description of the security measures before his shooting.

After leaving 67-year-old Abe revealed from behind while talking on a traffic jam on a public road, his security details allowed the attacker – identified by police as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 – to come within meters of Abe unchecked, with a weapon. , showed the footage.

“They should have seen the attacker very consciously walk towards the back of the Prime Minister and intervene,” said Kenneth Bombace, head of Global Threat Solutions, which provided security for Joe Biden when he was a presidential candidate.

Shinzo Abe in a dark suit and white shirt, talking to a group of people at an informal campaign stop in Nara
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at a campaign event in a Nara street when he was shot [File: The Asahi Shimbun/via Reuters]

Yamagami came within about seven meters (23 feet) of Abe before firing his first shot, which missed, said the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, citing investigative sources. He fired the second shot, which hit, at about five meters (16.4 feet) away, it was said.

Abe’s bodyguards did not appear to have “concentric security rings” around him, said John Soltys, a former Navy SEAL and CIA officer who is now vice president of security firm Prosegur. “They did not have any kind of surveillance in the crowd.”

Asked about the experts’ analysis, Nara Prefectural Police, responsible for security for Abe’s campaign stoppage, told Reuters in a statement that the department was “obliged to identify the security issues” with Abe’s protection, and declined to comment further.

The video recording showed that Abe, after the first shot, turned and looked over his left shoulder. Two bodyguards fought to get between him and the attacker, one lifted a slender black bag. Two others set course for the gunman, who moved closer through the smoke.

Although Abe’s security tackled the assailant moments later and arrested him, it was the “wrong reaction” for some of the security to go after the attacker instead of moving to protect Abe, said Mitsuru Fukuda, a professor at Nihon University who specializes in crisis management and terrorism. .

There was enough security, “but no sense of danger,” said Yasuhiro Sasaki, a retired police officer in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo who handled security for VIPs. “Everyone was frightened, and no one went where Abe was.”

Tokyo police, in charge of VIP politicians’ bodyguards, referred questions to Nara police.

The National Police Agency, which oversees local police forces, said Abe’s killing was a result of the police failing to fulfill their responsibilities, and said it had set up a team to review security and protection measures and consider concrete steps to prevent such a serious incident. from repetitive.

“We acknowledge that there were issues not only in the on – site response, such as the security and safety setup, the deployment of personnel and basic security procedures, but also in the way the National Police Office was involved,” it said in a response. to Reuters questions.

Reuters could not reach Yamagami, who is still in police custody, for comment and could not determine if he had a lawyer.

“Could have been avoided”

Footage shows four bodyguards inside the guardrail while Abe was talking, according to Koichi Ito, a former sergeant at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s special attack team and now a security consultant. Their number was confirmed by local politician Masahiro Okuni, who was present.

When the former prime minister went up to speak, Yamagami could be seen in video footage in the background, clapping.

When Yamagami went up behind Abe, it did not seem that security took action, the recordings showed.

Abe should have had a dedicated near-protection bodyguard to get him away, said a member of the US Diplomatic Security Service, which protects senior diplomats and foreign dignitaries.

“We would grab him by the belt and collar, shield him with our body and move away,” the agent said.

Katsuhiko Ikeda, a former Tokyo police superintendent who led security for Japan’s Group of Eight summits in 2000 and 2008, said the situation would have turned out very differently if Abe’s security details had been close enough to reach him in a second or two. .

Ito, the former chief of police, said security could have stopped the first shot if they had been vigilant and communicated.

“Even if they missed it, there was a window more than two seconds before the second shot, so they could definitely have prevented it,” he said. “If Abe had been properly protected, it could have been avoided.”

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