Concerns about the threat posed by easily-made weapons in Japan have been rekindled after police in Japan seized metal tubes, tools, and perhaps gunpowder from the home of a suspect who hurled what was thought to be a homemade pipe bomb at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a campaign rally.
Witnesses report seeing what seemed to be a thin metal thermos flying overhead and touching down close to the prime minister.
Before the explosive burst, Kishida was safely evacuated, sending the terrified throng running as white smoke engulfed them.
Police have so far reported only one police officer injury.
The explosion was most likely caused by a pipe bomb, according to experts, although based on the impact and smoke output, it was probably not very powerful.
At the Saikazaki fishing port in the western Japanese city of Wakayama on Saturday, the 24-year-old suspect Ryuji Kimura was wrestled to the ground shortly before Kishida was to deliver a speech in support of a local governing party candidate.
Kimura was detained for a further ten days by police on Monday to allow for further investigation.
He is officially charged with obstruction of duty, but additional charges, including assault and attempted murder, are conceivable, according to experts.
Police seized unidentified powder, metal tubes, and various tools during a raid on Kimura’s residence on Saturday night in Kawanishi City, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of the event site.
These items were likely used to manufacture the projectile that was hurled at Kishida.
At the event, police seized a cigarette lighter and two potential metal tube bombs, including one that exploded but largely kept its shape and another in the suspect’s hand at the time of the arrest.
In his backpack, the police also discovered a fruit knife.
The homemade double-barrel gun used in the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nine months ago and the shoddily built weapons brought to mind that incident.
In Japan, violent crimes are uncommon. Due to its strong gun control laws, the nation only experiences a small number of gun-related crimes each year, most of which are gang-related. But concerns about homemade weapons and explosives have grown in recent years.
He claimed that since their original ingredients are legally accessible, they cannot be regulated.
The issue is that Japan’s public safety and dignitary protection still heavily rely on knife defense. According to him, Japanese security personnel are well-trained for close-quarters combat against knife attacks but are still unskilled against bombs and weapons.
Earlier this year, Koichi Tani, chair of the National Public Safety Commission, stated, “Police must be ready for crimes where homemade guns are used.”
Police have increased “cyber patrols” to look for illicit weapons trafficking and production while urging that “gun production methods and other harmful information” be removed from websites.
Before the Group of Seven leaders’ conference in May and the late-April elections, Tani has vowed to increase security.
The most recent incident raises concerns about whether anything was learned from Abe’s murder, which spurred authorities to increase security after discovering flaws in Abe’s protection.
There were no luggage inspections at the event, and Kishida was not given a protective shield. While chatting with locals, he ate some of the local seafood, then made his way to the speech location.
Kishida was there, and unlike in the US, there was no physical barrier separating him from the audience as he stood just a few feet away from them.
Politicians in Japan tend to approach the audience and show their faces, mingle, and shake hands to obtain votes rather than explain their positions on issues.
However, activists argue that there should be multiple layers of defense.