| 29 November 2023, Wednesday |

Japan PM Kishida evacuated unhurt after explosion at speech

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was unharmed after a suspect tossed what seemed to be a smoke bomb at an outdoor address in western Japan on Saturday, according to domestic media.

A loud explosion was heard, but the premier sought shelter and was uninjured, according to national station NHK, while police apprehended a man at the scene. According to NHK, there were no injuries.

“Police are investigating the details of the loud explosive sound at the previous speech venue,” Kishida stated in a video carried by NHK as he began his campaign remarks. “I apologize for causing so much concern.” Our country is in the midst of a critical election. We have to do this together.”

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader of modern Japan, was assassinated with a homemade gun last July while campaigning for a parliamentary election, shocking the nation and prompting a review of security for politicians, who routinely press the flesh with the public.

By-elections in various regions for the lower house of Japan’s parliament are to be held on April 23.

The incident late on Saturday morning incident occurred at the Saikazaki fishing harbor in Wakayama prefecture, some 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Osaka city.

Kishida was being served local speciality seafood just before the explosion, media reported. News video showed Kishida looking behind him in surprise as shouts filled the area.

A man identified by the Asahi newspaper as a staffer of the fishery cooperative grabbed a young man in a headlock as police swarmed the suspect and dragged him to the ground. Moments later, an explosion and cloud of smoke could be seen near where Kishida had been standing.

NHK video showed the thrown object, which appeared to be a metal cylinder.

NHK footage showed crowds running away as several police officers appeared to pin a man to the ground before removing him from the scene. The man appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, media said.

A representative of Wakayama’s prefectural police headquarters told Reuters he could not answer questions about the incident. Police arrested a 24-year old male suspect from Kawanishi city, Kyodo reported.

A woman on the scene told NHK that she saw an object flying overhead and “it gave me a bad feeling, so we ran away unbelievably fast. Then we heard a really loud noise. It made my daughter cry.”

Kishida is to host a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima next month. Japan’s foreign ministry said after the incident there would be no change to the security plan for a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting starting on Sunday in the resort city of Karuizawa.

  • Reuters