WAKAYAMA, Japan — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida escaped unharmed Saturday after someone fired an explosive device in his direction while on duty at a fishing port in western Japan, officials said. The police wrestled the suspect to the ground, so that the bystanders’ screams of being robbed went away, and smoke filled the air.
Although no one was injured, and Kishida continued his campaign on Saturday, the scene was reminiscent of the chaotic killing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nine months ago, which also came on the campaign trail and reverberated in Japanese politics. Kishida Saikazaki was visiting the port in Wakayama prefecture to support the ruling party’s candidate in a local election, and the explosion occurred before he could begin his speech.
A young man believed to be a suspect was arrested at the scene on Saturday after an alleged “suspicious incident,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. Matsuno declined to comment on the suspect’s plan and motive, saying police are still investigating.
TV footage shows Kishida standing with his back to the crowd. Suddenly his security detail points to the ground near him, and the prime minister looks around with his whips in terror. The camera quickly pans to the crowd as several people, including plainclothes officers, focus on a young man wearing a white surgical mask and holding what appears to be another device, a long silver tube.
As the man rushes to the top, working to remove the pipe from his hands, a large explosion is heard near where Kishida was standing. The crowd panics, the police drag the man away.
It was not immediately clear what the explosive device was or how many were suspected, but some reports said it was a smoke or pipe bomb, possibly with a delayed fuse.
No injuries were reported in the incident, which comes on the eve of a major international market in Japan. Kishida was not injured and continued campaigning after Saturday, Matsuno said.
Kishida did not mention the explosion and returned to the Tokyo region in the evening after campaigning for another candidate in Chiba.
“Elections are the core of democracy, and we must never tolerate threats or interference through violence,” Matsuno said.
The national police said it was providing full assistance to protect dignitaries visiting Japan in the lead up to the Group of Seven summit in May.
killing Abethat shocked nation, which prided itself on the safety of the state, and contained itself in the close state of the artillery, came to the western city of Nara, sending forth an expedition of prayer. Amid a national outcry, police have lifted their security measures following an investigation that led to a breach in Abe’s security.
Security has also been tightened in Japan as senior diplomats from some of the world’s most powerful democracies arrive on Sunday. G-7 foreign minister meeting. Cishida’s army from May 19-21 G-7 heads the commanders in their hometown of Hiroshima.
One witness told NHK television on Saturday that he was standing in the crowd when he saw something fly from behind. With a sudden cry, he fled with his children. Another witness said that people were shouting and that he saw someone caught before the explosion.
Saturday’s attack comes ahead of national local elections, including a number of elections for vacant parliamentary seats, which are due to go to the polls on April 23.
In the assassination of Abe, the former prime minister was shot with a homemade gun during a campaign speech. The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, has been charged with murder and several other crimes, including violating the gun control law.
He told investigators that he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most influential and divisive politicians, because of the prime minister’s apparent ties to a religious group he hated. In statements attributed to him and on social media, Yamagami said he harbored a grudge because his mother had made large donations to the Unification Church, which had troubled his family and cost him his life.
Abe’s killing came as a result of the resignation of the top local and national capital police and the tightening of security measures for political leaders and other prominent people.
The Kishida government was hoping to draw world attention this weekend to the hot spring town of Karuizawa, where senior diplomats will gather Sunday for the so-called Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting.
Foreign ministers from Japan, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union are expected to focus on concerns about Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s increasingly belligerent rise and North Korea’s provocative string of weapons tests. .
Klug was reported from Karuizawa, Japan.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, distributed, copied or edited without permission.