Japan's police came under a barrage of criticism on Saturday, hours after an armed hostage-taking came to an end, leaving a young policeman dead and three other people wounded.
The standoff ended after more than 24 hours on Friday when the hostage escaped and the ex-gangster gunman gave himself up.
It was the third fatal shooting in a month in a country that has long prided itself on its safe streets and strict gun control.
In April, a member of a "yakuza" gang shot a fellow mobster in a Tokyo suburb and hid in an apartment before shooting himself. Another gangster shot dead the mayor of Nagasaki.
"Cowardly police response," read the headline to an editorial in the daily Mainichi Shimbun, outraged by the fact that the first policeman on the scene had been left bleeding from a gunshot wound for five hours before colleagues ventured close enough to rescue him.
His prostrate form was shown "live" on television networks.
"Many citizens will have imagined themselves in the same situation and wondered if they too would be left to die by police," the paper said.
In the rescue process, the hostage-taker shot dead another 23-year-old police officer, while the hostage made her own escape through a toilet window, media reports said, rather than being rescued by police.
"This can be called a fiasco for the police," the Mainichi said. "Police must take a tough stance against those who aim their weapons at their colleagues, or ordinary citizens," it said.
Other media urged the police - often criticised for cosy ties with gangsters - to take a harder line on organised crime.
Mob-linked gun crime has fallen markedly over the past few years, from 112 cases in 2002 to 36 last year, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
The number of illegal weapons seized has also fallen, but some experts say this is merely because criminals have become better at hiding them, since a law was passed holding gang godfathers responsible for crimes committed by their underlings.
"Hunt down guns and gangs," said the Asahi Shimbun. "The way to reduce gun crime is to focus on gangsters and crack down hard," it said in an editorial.
The number of shootings so far this year is twice as high as in the same period last year, the paper said, adding that this indicated guns were still widely available in underworld circles.
"If we allow shootings to become every day events, there will be no going back," the Asahi said. "The real worth of the police is now being called into question."
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