Japan’s Shinzo Abe was ‘unguarded’ from the rear, police say

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Japan’s Shinzo Abe was ‘unguarded’ from the rear, police say

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pictured moments before he was shot while giving a campaign speech in front of the Kintetsu Line s Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara on July 8 Asahi Shimbun File photo A last-minute change in a police officer's location and the man s failure to notify a superior the spot is now unguarded are believed to be the main factors that left former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vulnerable to an attack from his back.

The findings of the National Police Agency NPA investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Abe on July 8 while he was speaking about his campaign in Nara city.

The police officer in question was initially tasked with keeping an eye out for suspicious characters in the area behind where Abe was to give his speech. The change left Abe unguarded from the rear, but it was not reported to the commanding officer.

If a report had been made, there was a possibility reinforcements could have been called in to maintain an adequate watch in the back, an NPA official said.

The NPA's assessment was submitted to the National Public Safety Commission. The police officer allowed Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, to move to within 5 meters of Abe and fire a second fatal shot, according to the two entities.

The lack of an organized response provided the opportunity for the veteran politician to kill him, according to the NPA.

Before Abe began his speech on July 8, three police officers were standing guard within the designated area that was marked off by a guard rail. A fourth officer was initially outside the area and was tasked with keeping a watch on suspicious movements in the rear.

The fourth officer moved to within the guard rail area at the instruction of another officer, just before Abe began speaking. The crowd gathered to Abe's right had increased in size and the fourth officer was told to keep an eye on the people.

That meant there was no officer watching out for Abe's back.

The officers on the scene were in radio contact with each other, but no report was made to the commanding officer.