Police beefing up VIP protection in 2 years since Abe shooting

Monday marks two years since former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was gunned down while stumping for an election candidate in the western city of Nara.

The shooting prompted the National Police Agency to drastically overhaul its VIP protection policy and begin requiring prefectural officers to submit their plans in advance for screening.

The agency says it received about 6,300 plans from prefectural police between August 2022 and June 2024. It says it ordered revisions to 75 percent, or roughly 4,800 of them.

The agency says the changes included the number of officers to be involved, how they should be positioned and how dignitaries and audience members should be evacuated.

Police have also increased the ranks of personnel in charge of VIP protection nationwide. The arrangement came after an explosive was thrown toward Prime Minister Kishida Fumio during an election campaign event in the western city of Wakayama in April 2023.

Police have also asked event organizers to cooperate in their VIP protection efforts, such as baggage inspections, metal detector checks and keeping dignitaries sufficiently far away from audience members.

In the month that followed the shooting of Abe, the agency released the results of its inquiry into the security arrangement provided for him on the day of the incident.

The report pointed out that the shooter was able to approach the former prime minister because security behind him was deficient.

The report also said a security plan drawn up by local police for Abe blindly followed past practices and overlooked dangers from his rear. It added that the plan also did not call for a sufficient number of officers.