TOKYO, Japan (Caasimada Online) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida narrowly escaped harm after an explosive device was thrown in his direction while campaigning at Saikazaki port in Wakayama prefecture on Saturday.
The incident, reminiscent of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination nine months ago, has sent shockwaves through Japan’s political landscape.
Kishida had been visiting the port to support his ruling party’s candidate in a local election.
Suspect apprehended at the scene
Following the incident, a young man, believed to be the suspect, was arrested at the scene after allegedly throwing “the suspicious object,” according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
Matsuno declined to provide details about the suspect’s motive and background, stating that the police are still investigating.
TV footage captured the dramatic scene, showing Kishida’s security detail reacting to the explosive as several people, including uniformed and plainclothes police officers, subdued the suspect.
The man appeared to be holding another device, a long silver tube, before being tackled by the officers.
Explosive details and reactions
Although the exact nature of the explosive device remains unclear, some reports suggest it was a smoke or pipe bomb, possibly with a delayed fuse.
No injuries were reported in the incident, which occurred on the eve of a major international forum in Japan.
Kishida was unharmed and continued to give campaign speeches later that day, Matsuno confirmed.
“Elections are the core of democracy, and we should never tolerate threats or obstruction by violence,” Matsuno said.
He also instructed national police to ensure the utmost effort to protect dignitaries visiting Japan leading up to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in May.
In light of Abe’s assassination, which exposed security shortcomings for political leaders, police have tightened protective measures.
The nation is also ramping up security as senior diplomats from some of the world’s most powerful democracies arrive for Sunday’s G-7 foreign minister meetings hosted by Kishida in Hiroshima.
Saturday’s attack precedes nationwide local elections, including several by-elections for vacated parliamentary seats, with voting scheduled for April 23.
Abe’s assassination and aftermath
During a campaign speech, Abe’s assassination was carried out using a homemade gun.
The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, has been charged with murder and several other crimes, including violating gun control law.
Yamagami told investigators that he targeted Abe due to the former prime minister’s alleged links to a religious group he despised.
Abe’s assassination led to the resignation of top local and national police chiefs and the tightening of security guidelines for political leaders and other prominent figures.
Kishida’s government was hoping to direct world attention to the hot spring resort town of Karuizawa, where senior diplomats will gather on Sunday for the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting.
Foreign ministers from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the European Union are expected to focus on concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s increasingly aggressive rise, and North Korea’s provocative weapons tests.