Shinzo Abe: The 2.5 seconds that sealed the fate of the former Japanese Prime Minister

Nara, Japan –

Bodyguards could have saved Shinzo Abe if they shielded him or removed him from the line of fire within 2.5 seconds between a first missed shot and a second shot that fatally injured him, eight experts say safe who reviewed footage of the ancient Japanese. the assassination of the leader.

The failure to protect Abe from the second shot follows what appears to be a series of security breaches in the run-up to the assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister on July 8, Japanese and international experts said.

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

Japanese authorities – including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – have acknowledged security flaws and police have said they are investigating.

In addition to security experts, Reuters spoke to six witnesses at the scene and reviewed several videos available online, taken from different angles, to piece together a detailed account of security measures prior to his shooting.

After leaving Abe, 67, exposed from behind as he spoke on a traffic island on a public road, his security detail allowed the shooter – identified by police as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41 – to approach a few feet away from Abe unchecked, carrying a weapon. , pictures showed.

« They should have seen the attacker walk very deliberately towards the back of the prime minister and intervene, » said Kenneth Bombace, head of Global Threat Solutions, who provided security for Joe Biden when he was a presidential candidate.

Yamagami came within about 7 yards of Abe before firing his first shot, which missed, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing investigative sources. He fired the second shot, which hit him, about 5 meters away, he said.

Abe’s bodyguards did not appear to have « concentric circles of security » around him, said John Soltys, a former Navy SEAL and CIA officer now vice president of security firm Prosegur. « They didn’t have any sort of surveillance in the crowd. »

Asked about the expert analysis, Nara Prefectural Police, tasked with security for Abe’s campaign stoppage, told Reuters in a statement that the department was « committed to thoroughly identifying security issues with Abe’s protection, declining to comment further.

Video footage showed that after the first hit, Abe turns around and looks over his left shoulder. Two bodyguards scramble to come between him and the shooter, one hoisting a thin black bag. Two more head towards the shooter, who closes in through the smoke.

Although Abe’s security accosted the assailant moments later and arrested him, it was the « wrong response » for some security to pursue the shooter instead of moving to protect Abe, said 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 from Saitama prefecture near Tokyo who handled VIP security. « Everyone was surprised and no one went where Abe was. »

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

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

« We recognize that there have been issues not only in the on-site response, such as the establishment of security and protection, the deployment of personnel and fundamental security procedures, but also in the way in which the National Police Agency was involved, » he said in response to questions from Reuters.

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


The footage shows four bodyguards inside the guardrails as Abe spoke, according to Koichi Ito, a former sergeant with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Assault Team, now a security consultant. Their number was corroborated by local politician Masahiro Okuni, who was at the scene.

When the former prime minister rose to speak, Yamagami could be seen in video footage in the background, applauding.

As Yamagami moved forward behind Abe, security didn’t seem to be involved, as the footage shows.

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

“We grabbed him by the belt and the collar, protected him with our body and walked away,” the agent said.

Katsuhiko Ikeda, a former Tokyo police superintendent general who provided security for Japan’s Group of Eight summits in 2000 and 2008, said things would have turned out very differently had Abe’s security detail been close enough to reach it in a second or two.

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

« Even if they missed that, there was a window of more than two seconds before the second hit, so they definitely could have prevented that, » he said. « If Abe had been properly protected, this could have been avoided. »

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama in Nara, Sam Nussey in Tokyo and Ju-min Park in Seoul; additional reporting by Tim Kelly, Rocky Swift, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Nobuhiro Kubo, David Dolan and Yukiko Toyoda; writing by Sam Nussey; editing by David Dolan and William Mallard)


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