Updated 14 minutes ago
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida escaped unhurt from the attack on Saturday, but security had to evacuate him. Before the prime minister’s public address in the western city of Wakayama, a man threw an object in the crowd, followed by an explosion. According to the Japanese media, it was apparently a smokestack. The police arrested the suspect.
When a sound similar to an explosion was heard in the place, some of the several hundred people ran away. On television shots officers were seen overpowering and taking the suspect away. Twenty-four-year-old Ryuji Kimura from Hyogo Prefecture was arrested at the scene, the Kyodo agency said, citing sources from the investigation. The police did not comment further on the incident.
The Kyódó agency reports that the man threw the object directly at Kishido while the 65-year-old politician was talking to the candidate of the ruling party. NHK TV reported that a man threw a bomb at the venue of the upcoming performance. The incident took place around 11:25 local time (04:25 CEST). No one was injured.
Kishida said the incident should not disrupt the election process. “Together we have to go ahead with the election,” he said. “The police are investigating the details, but I would like to apologize for disturbing many people and causing them trouble,” the prime minister said.
“Elections are the foundation of democracy. Such violence is unforgivable,” said Japanese Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who said police were investigating the suspect’s motives. The attack took place before local elections and by-elections for vacant seats in parliament. The vote is scheduled for April 23, the AP reported.
Naoja Tanimoto, who was in the crowd, said he heard a loud explosion about ten seconds after the man was knocked to the ground. “The fishing port is usually calm, so I was really startled. We all panicked,” 31-year-old Tanimoto told the Kyodo news agency.
The incident happened in a small fishing port near the city of Wakayama, which is the center of the prefecture of the same name. After the incident, the police immediately took Kishida to a car parked nearby and took him to the police headquarters.
One witness told NHK television that she was standing in the crowd when she saw something fly in from behind. “I was running like crazy and after about ten seconds I heard a sudden noise and my baby started crying. I was in shock. My heart is still pounding,” she said. Another witness said people were screaming and that he saw police arresting someone just before the explosion occurred.
Last July, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Kishida, was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, died after the assassination. The assassination led to a series of resignations by police chiefs and authorities tightened guidelines for protecting political leaders and other important officials. Japan is hosting ministerial meetings of the G7 group of advanced economies this weekend. The G7 summit will be held in Hiroshima in May.
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