6 June 2024

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated unhurt after a suspect threw what appeared to be a smoke bomb at an outdoor speech in western Japan on Saturday, domestic media reported.

A loud explosion was heard, but the premier took cover and was unharmed while police subdued a man at the scene, public broadcaster NHK said.

The incident occurred at the Saikazaki fishing harbour in Wakayama prefecture, some 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Osaka city.

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.

Kishida had just started to deliver the speech after touring the harbour when Saturday’s incident occurred, NHK said. The speech was scheduled for 11:40 a.m. (0240 GMT), according to Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Kishida was to continue his Saturday afternoon campaign schedule after the incident, the LDP confirmed via its Twitter account.

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.

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. G7 foreign ministers are to meet on Sunday in the resort city of Karuizawa.

By Reuters