Nara prefectural police officers investigate the crime scene near Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara on July 8. (Video by Nobuhiro Shirai; part of the footage provided by a reader)

Inevitably, questions are being raised about Shinzo Abe’s security detail after the former prime minister was gunned down July 8 while delivering a stump speech in Nara Prefecture.

The National Police Agency (NPA) defended the steps it took to protect the veteran lawmaker, saying they met the “required” level for such an occasion.

The security bureau of the Nara prefectural police was in charge of protecting Abe, and local police officers as well as bodyguards dispatched by the Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo, assisted, according to the NPA.

Abe apparently was shot by a man approaching from behind while giving a speech to an audience to his left and right near Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara.

A senior official with the NPA declined to divulge details of the security steps that were in place.

But the official said police carried out the assignment bearing in mind that an “emergency was always possible.”

Keeping politicians safe during election campaigns is always a daunting challenge, the official conceded, noting that police try to keep members of the public at a reasonable distance even though they are often eager to interact with the person giving the speech.

Toshihiko Matsumaru, a former member of the MPD and a senior consultant with Ohkoshi Security Consultants, questioned the manner in which security guards were supposed to be protecting Abe’s back.

After examining a variety of TV footage of the attack, Matsumaru said no officers appeared to be watching the crowd behind Abe.

“Whether officers were put in place to guard him from behind should be investigated,” he said.

Matsumaru said bodyguards are routinely trained to protect the person they are responsible for by pushing the individual to the ground and using their own bodies for protection in the event something irregular occurs.

TV footage captured at least two shots being fired, apparently with a homemade weapon. In Matsumaru’s opinion, the actions of the police officers closest to Abe after gunfire erupted should be called into question.

Kazuhiro Nakanishi, a senior official with the Nara prefectural police, declined to answer repeated questions from reporters during a news conference on the night of July 8 about details of the security setup, citing possible disruptions in their future activities.

He stated that police took Abe’s death gravely as he was attacked while they were guarding him.