Japan Implements ‘Lone Actor’ Spotting Scheme to Prevent Attacks

Japan is set to launch a groundbreaking pilot scheme aimed at identifying potential “lone actors” and preventing attacks similar to the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe. The initiative, scheduled to begin in August, comes as a response to Abe’s tragic killing and an attempted attack on current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier this year.

Identifying “Potentially Dangerous” Individuals

In a move to mitigate future attacks by “lone actors,” Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) announced a pilot scheme that will focus on identifying individuals who may pose a potential threat. The scheme, set to commence in August, will undergo monitoring to determine its effectiveness and potential for replication in other jurisdictions.

Guidelines to Combat Lone Actor Attacks

The pilot scheme is part of a series of measures introduced in guidelines drafted by Japan’s national police agency on the eve of the first anniversary of Shinzo Abe’s assassination. Abe, while delivering a speech in Nara Prefecture on July 8th last year, was fatally shot.

Another incident occurred earlier this year when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was targeted in an attempted attack. Both incidents involved individuals with no affiliation to organized crime.

929px State Funeral of Shinzo Abe 20220927 2 - The Japan Weeknd Magazine
Fumio Kishida expressing the memorial address at the State Funeral of Shinzo Abe | Wikipedia Commons

Enhancing Police Effectiveness

Speaking at an event attended by police chiefs from across Japan, NPA Commissioner General Yasuhiro Tsuyuki emphasized the importance of adapting to changing circumstances and improving the effectiveness of law enforcement. The new guidelines, including measures specifically addressing lone actors, aim to make the police organization as efficient as possible.

Information Gathering and Threat Assessment

Under the pilot scheme, police officers in selected jurisdictions will collect information on individuals deemed particularly dangerous during questioning and other investigative activities. This data will then be forwarded to public security officials who will assess the threat level posed by these individuals.

Understanding the Lone Actor Phenomenon

According to a study conducted by Dr. Kiriu Masayuki of Tokyo University, a “lone actor” or “lone wolf” attack refers to acts committed by individuals driven by personal ideologies to resolve perceived problems. These perpetrators target individuals or organizations they consider responsible for the issues they face. The study emphasizes that lone actors are driven by personal motives rather than political or ideological views, often stemming from a sense of psychological stagnation and disillusionment with the future.

Case of Abe’s Assassination Suspect

In January, Japanese prosecutors formally charged Tetsuya Yamagami with murder in connection to Shinzo Abe’s assassination. Yamagami, in written letters and tweets attributed to him, expressed grievances related to financial setbacks his family faced due to his mother’s donations to the controversial Unification Church. He mentioned that Abe was not his true enemy but a prominent sympathizer of the organization.

The Unification Church has close ties to lawmakers in Japan’s ruling party, including Abe, who praised the church’s emphasis on family values. While some citizens expressed sympathy and sought leniency for Yamagami, others even suggested sending care packages to his detention center to boost his spirits.

With the implementation of the “lone actor” spotting scheme, Japan aims to enhance its ability to identify potential threats and prevent future attacks. By closely monitoring individuals deemed dangerous and assessing their threat level, law enforcement authorities strive to ensure the safety and security of the nation.



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