TOKYO — The police in Japan were sharply criticized for the effectiveness of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security measures a day after his murder at a political rally, even as parliamentary candidates resumed their campaigns on Saturday as a sign that political life was going on despite the tragedy.
There were white vans driving through the streets with large photos of politicians and loudspeakers blaring their names. Candidates took selfies and fist-bumped with supporters. And in the midst of heavy mourning, politicians—many of them from Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party—made their last appeals to voters before a Sunday election.
Akiko Ikuina, a former pop idol running for a seat in Japan’s Upper House, sobbed as she declared that “those of us who are left behind must help make Mr. Abe’s vision for our country come true” while perched on a truck in central Tokyo’s opulent Ginza fashion district. Some of the hundreds of supporters in the audience sobbed during the silence.
Politicians frequently interact freely with voters at campaign events in Japan, maintaining a close proximity to the crowd.
However, the ease with which a lone shooter could approach Mr. Abe, once one of the world’s most powerful leaders, with a homemade tape-wrapped weapon, may cause some in Japan to reconsider that openness.
The police body-scanned residents and searched roofs as the current prime minister, Fumio Kishida, made his final campaign appearances in the prefectures of Yamanashi and Niigata on Saturday. A security guard appeared to be glued to the back of Prime Minister Kishida at one point as he encouraged a crowd from behind.
In the wake of Mr. Abe’s murder, Japan was still processing the shock in a nation where gun deaths are uncommon, let alone the shooting death of a prominent politician.
Mr. Abe’s widow, Akie Abe, drove his body in a hearse from the hospital in Nara where he passed away to his house in Tokyo early on Saturday. A wake will be held on Monday, according to Mr. Abe’s parliamentary office, and a funeral will be held at one of Tokyo’s biggest Buddhist temples on Tuesday.
Police were quiet on Saturday as they continued to look for solutions. Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old suspect, was the subject of rumors on social media because there wasn’t much new information available about him.
More information about Shinzo Abe’s murder
Mr. Yamagami was still being questioned by the Nara prefectural police. The police revealed to reporters at a press conference on Saturday afternoon that he traveled from his neighborhood to the campaign rally where Mr. Abe was shot by taking a train one stop. Additionally, they claimed to have discovered numerous bullet holes in a vehicle Mr. Abe was using to campaign for the L.D.P. candidate, but they did not provide any further details.
Tomoaki Onizuka, the chief of the Nara prefectural police, acknowledged shortcomings in the protection provided to Mr. Abe during a press conference on Saturday in Nara. Mr. Onizuka stated, “It is undeniable that there were security problems.
After watching numerous videos on television and social media that showed the shooter walking past security unimpeded before pointing a large, homemade gun at Mr. Abe, Toshio Tamogami, a former chief of staff for the Japanese Air Force, appeared to pose the question that the nation was considering.
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“How did the police, protective detail, and other security personnel miss the criminal coming at them from behind brandishing a gun?” Tamogami wrote a piece.
In the quiet residential neighborhood where elderly residents frequently stop to chat in the streets, Mr. Yamagami’s mother, Yoko, who is also from Nara, kept to herself, according to neighbors. Although she has lived in the neighborhood for many years and is a few doors down from Ms. Yamagami, Kikuko Nakano, 73, claims that she has hardly ever spoken to Ms. Yamagami and has never seen Mr. Yamagami pay a visit.
On Saturday in Nara, hundreds of people lined up to pay their respects to Mr. Abe at a temporary memorial set up near the spot of his murder, Yamato-Saidaiji railway station. On tables arranged beneath a white tent, they left flowers, pictures, cards, packets of snacks, cans of beer, and bottles of soda.
As mourners overflowed onto the street from the sidewalk, police officers managed traffic. To collect the excess bouquets, they set up cardboard boxes. Visitors of all ages waited in line in the middle of the afternoon even though it was pouring rain.
Miharu Araki, 24, a former resident of Nara who now lives in Osaka, about 20 miles away, said, “If asked who is the face of Japan, it’s Mr. Abe.” Miharu Araki had been glued to the television all day on Friday for news about Mr. Abe.
While political candidates in Tokyo finished their campaigns, daily life went on as usual. Crowds swarmed fashion stores, and cafes and restaurants in Shibuya, the city’s well-known shopping and entertainment district, were packed. There was no moment of silence prior to the Yomiuri Giants’ game against the Yokohama DeNa Baystars, but the flag at Tokyo Dome was flown at half-staff.
Couples competed in an arcade outside the baseball stadium to win stuffed animals. A nearby convenience store had a line extending out the door. The assassination of Mr. Abe did not alter Makiko Kawasaki’s, 29, plan to skip the voting on Sunday. She had been going to take her 3-year-old on a ride on a Ferris wheel.
Ms. Kawasaki stated, “I’m not really interested in politics. And my husband’s birthday is the following day.
Volunteers held up signs with slogans like “Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” or “Raise the Minimum Wage to 1,500 Yen an Hour” at a rally in Shibuya for Taku Yamazoe, 37, a Communist Party member of the Upper House of Parliament running for re-election from the Tokyo electoral district.
Mr. Yamazoe referred to Mr. Abe in a speech to supporters. Mr. Yamazoe declared, “We will not allow free speech to be silenced.” Violence is not a sign of democracy.
Even though the L.D.P. was already heavily favored to win, some of Mr. Yamazoe’s supporters expressed concern that the assassination might encourage some voters to cast sympathy ballots for the party.
Natsumi Takahashi, a 20-year-old college student, said, “I hope votes tomorrow aren’t swayed because of what happened.” She was eating ice cream from a cup as she listened to Mr. Yamazoe speak. I’m a little concerned.
She expressed her disapproval of some of Mr. Abe’s policies regarding gender relations. When people vote tomorrow, Ms. Takahashi said, “I want them to keep in mind what he was like as a politician.”