The head of the police in the Japanese city where former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated said that he takes ‘responsibility’ for the security problems that allowed the popular leader to be killed.
Tomoaki Onizuka, police chief in Nara, told reporters that it was the worst feeling he has ever had in his career and that police were already looking at the mistakes in securing the area where Abe was giving a political speech for a parliamentary candidate seeking re-election. He said that he “take[s] responsibility” for the incident.
“It is undeniable that there were problems with the security for former prime minister Abe, and we will immediately identify the problems and take appropriate measures to resolve them,” Onizuka said.
“After the first report of the incident came at 11:30 a.m., and the situation was revealed, it was the height of the guilt and regret I’ve felt in my 27 years in law enforcement,” he added. “I feel the weight of my responsibility.”
Police are still investigating the stunning assassination and the motive behind it. They say that early evidence suggests that the suspected killer, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was not politically motivated. They pointed to a link Yamagami had made between the Abe and a ‘”specific organization.”
The name or further details about the “specific organization” police cited has not yet been revealed while authorities continue to investigate. However, sources have told the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi that the group in question was religious in nature.
Sources told the paper that the suspect “targeted Abe out of resentment” and that he “intended to kill Abe” because he alleged his mom gave a substantial amount of money to a religious group he linked Abe with.
He also apparently told police that he knew where Abe would be because of an announcement on the website of the candidate the former prime minister was speaking alongside.
“I learned of Abe’s campaign speech on the [candidate’s] website. I went to the site by train,” Yamagami said, according to one source. A gun used by the suspect was homemade, according to the police.
The assassination shocked world leaders as many called Abe a friend and praised him for his diplomacy with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, saying the nation had lost a “close friend.” Abe was vocal in recent years about the need to support Taiwan.
“Not only has the international community lost an important leader, but Taiwan has also lost an important and close friend. Taiwan and Japan are both democratic countries with the rule of law, and our government severely condemns violent and illegal acts,” Tsai stated.