According to officials, an explosive device was thrown in the direction of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday as he was campaigning in a fishing port in western Japan. Kishida was evacuated safely.
A suspect was being pulled to the ground by police as terrified onlookers ran for safety, and smoke filled the air.
The violent scenario was reminiscent of the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe nine months ago, which also happened while Abe was on a campaign tour and is still impacting Japanese politics today.
One police officer was mildly harmed, and Kishida continued campaigning on Saturday.
The explosion happened just as Kishida was about to start supporting his ruling party’s candidate in a local election while in Saikazaki Port in Wakayama prefecture.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, a young man suspected of being a suspect was detained Saturday at the location after he allegedly tossed “the suspicious object.”
As the authorities are looking into the suspect’s background and motivations, Matsuno declined to comment.
In TV footage, Kishida may be standing with his back to the crowd. The prime minister looks frightened as his security detail abruptly points to the ground nearby.
As numerous individuals, including uniformed and plainclothes police officers, approach a young man wearing a white surgical mask and holding what looks to be another device, a long silver tube, the camera immediately pans to the crowd.
A loud explosion can be heard from where Kishida had been standing as they collide on top of the man and attempt to pull the tube from his hands. Police yank the man away in a forceful manner as the crowd scatters in fear.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the explosive was or how many the suspect had, but according to some sources, it was either a smoke or pipe bomb or perhaps had a delayed fuse.
On the eve of an important international meeting in Japan, the incident was claimed to have caused no casualties among the crowd.
According to Matsuno, Kishida continued his campaign remarks later on Saturday without incident. One police officer suffered a minor injury.
Late into the night, the situation was being investigated. According to accounts in the Japanese media, the suspect would not speak to police before his attorney showed up.
After campaigning in Chiba for a different candidate, Kishida did not bring up the incident before departing for the Tokyo area in the late afternoon.
Elections are the foundation of democracy, and violence-related threats or obstruction are never acceptable, according to Matsuno.
He said that he gave the national police strict instructions to make every effort to protect guests visiting Japan in the weeks before the Group of Seven meeting in May.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan was safely evacuated Saturday from a site where he was scheduled to give a speech and shortly before an explosion was heard. Footage shows the police holding down a man, believed to be the person who set off the blast. https://t.co/IpQNdemsM9 pic.twitter.com/POhBUJ4nsm
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