Japanese Police Chief to Resign Over Abe Murder

Shinzo Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister

Japan’s highest ranking police officer has said he takes responsibility for security lapses leading up to the fatal shooting of former prime minister Shinzo Abe last month, and will resign from his position.

Itaru Nakamura said he intended to step down as head of the national police agency in order to offer a “fresh start” to the organization, amid mounting criticism of the police response as Abe was gunned down while making an election campaign speech.

“We have decided to shake up our personnel and start afresh with our security duties, and that’s why I tendered my resignation today,” Nakamura told reporters at a press conference in which he acknowledged various mistakes by security personnel on the day of the shooting.

“In the process of verifying our new security plan, we have come to realize that our security system needs a fresh start … we need a new system to fundamentally reexamine security measures and ensure this never happens again.”

Nakamura did not say when his resignation would take effect.

Media reports said Tomoaki Onizuka, the head of police in the Nara prefecture where Abe was killed, was also set to resign.

The assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister has raised questions over how suspect Tetsuya Yamagami was able to gain access to his target so easily.

Security experts have said that bodyguards missed a crucial opportunity to save Abe by shielding him or pulling him out of the line of fire, with a two-and-a-half-second window following the first shot fired by the suspect, which missed.