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Abe murder prompts Japan police chief to step down, citing ‘fresh start’

Japan’s National Police Agency chief Itaru Nakamura said on Thursday he would resign to take responsibility for the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, citing the need for a “fresh start” for the organisation and its security duties.

Out of all the officials who resigned in connection with Mr Abe’s assassination at a campaign rally in the western city of Nara on July 8, Itaru Nakamura is the most senior one.

“In the process of verifying our new security plan, we have come to realise that our security duties would need a fresh start,” Mr Nakamura told a news conference. “To mark our fresh start with a new security plan, it is only natural for us to build a new organization.”

The rally has been criticised by experts who said security in Nara had been seriously flawed. Bodyguards failed to react by shielding Mr Abe or pulling him away during the 2.5-second window between the first shot that missed the assassin’s target and the second one that did not, proving fatal. As many as eight security experts shared such an opinion with Reuters, having reviewed the footage.

Nara police chief Tomoaki Onizuka also resigned.

“As the chief of police with security responsibility in this prefecture, I am painfully aware of my responsibility for causing a serious situation,” he said during a news conference.

The flaws in the security around Mr Abe and his appearance at the rally have been acknowledged by PM Fumio Kishida.

The National Police Agency had already admitted that the killing had been the result of police failing to fulfil their responsibility even before Mr Nakamura and Onizuka stepped down. The agency added that it had set up a team to review security and protection measures and develop preventive steps.

Regarding the suspected assassin arrested at the scene moments after the shooting, Japanese media said last month that he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

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