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Suspicious Man Tackled During Prime Minister's Visit, Explosion Then Rocks Scene

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated unharmed Saturday after someone threw an explosive device in his direction while he was campaigning at a fishing port in western Japan, officials said.

Police wrestled a suspect to the ground as screaming bystanders scrambled to get away and smoke filled the air.

One police officer was slightly hurt and Kishida continued campaigning, but the chaotic scene was reminiscent of the assassination nine months ago of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which also came on a campaign tour.

Kishida was visiting Saikazaki port in Wakayama prefecture to support his ruling party’s candidate in a local election, and the explosion occurred just before he was to begin his speech.

A young man believed to be a suspect was arrested at the scene after he allegedly threw the “suspicious object,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. Matsuno refused to comment on the suspect’s motive and background, saying police are still investigating.

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TV footage shows Kishida standing with his back to the crowd. His security detail suddenly points to the ground near him, and the prime minister whips around. The camera quickly turns to the crowd just as several people, including uniformed and plainclothes police officers, converge on a young man wearing a white surgical mask and holding what appears to be a long silver tube.

As they collapse on top of the man, working to remove the tube from his hands, a large explosion is heard near where Kishida had been standing. The crowd scatters in panic as police roughly drag the man away.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the explosive device was, but some reports said it was a smoke or pipe bomb, possibly with a delayed fuse.

No injuries among the crowd were reported in the incident, which came on the eve of a major international forum in Japan. Kishida was not hurt and continued his campaign speeches later Saturday. One police officer was slightly injured.

The investigation at the scene continued late into the night. Japanese media reports said the suspect refused to talk to police until his lawyer arrived.

Matsuno said he instructed national police to direct their utmost effort to the protection of dignitaries who are visiting Japan in the period leading up to the Group of Seven summit in May.

Abe’s assassination came as he delivered a campaign speech in the western city of Nara. The former prime minister was shot with a homemade gun. The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, has been charged with murder and several other crimes.

The assassination led to the resignation of top local and national police chiefs and a tightening of security guidelines for political leaders and other prominent people.

Security has been also ramped up in Japan as senior diplomats from some of the world’s most powerful democracies arrive for Sunday’s G-7 meetings. Kishida will host a G-7 leaders’ summit in his hometown of Hiroshima.

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Kishida’s government was hoping to focus world attention this weekend on the resort town of Karuizawa, where senior diplomats will gather for the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting.

The foreign ministers from Japan, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union are expected to focus on worries over Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s increasingly belligerent rise and North Korea’s provocative string of weapons tests.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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