Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida escaped injury in an incident Saturday in which a man threw what appeared to be a bomb while he was appearing for a campaign speech in western Japan.
Kishida was declared safe although one police officer suffered minor injuries in an incident at Saikazaki Port in Wakayama Prefecture on Saturday morning, police told national broadcaster NHK.
Kimura Ryuji, 24, a resident of Kawanishi city in Hyogo Prefecture, was arrested in connection with the apparent attack on the prime minister. He is reportedly refusing to talk to authorities.
Police sources told the broadcaster Ryuji was in possession of “two cylindrical objects,” one of which exploded, while the other was seized by authorities. The objects were possibly pipe bombs, the sources said.
Footage broadcast by NHK showed the suspected attacker holding a second metal cylinder as he was being subdued by police officers and bystanders.
Kishida went on to deliver the speech as planned and later Saturday made another appearance in Chiba prefecture as he campaigned ahead of April 23 elections in which voters will elect local officials as well as participate in a handful of byelections for seats in the national legislature.
Saturday’s incident came less than a year after a former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated during a similar campaign appearance in the city of Nara. That killing has prompted Japan’s National Police Agency to beef up security measures for political figures.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters the NPA is looking into the motives of the suspected attacker and again urged the agency to do whatever is necessary to protect leaders who are out on the campaign trail.
“Elections are a bedrock of democracy,” he said. “It is extremely unforgivable that such violence took place (at such a time).” (UPI)