Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has vowed to ensure the safety of politicians and officials attending this year’s round of G7 meetings, days after he escaped unharmed after being targeted in a pipe bomb attack.
The incident on Saturday came as foreign ministers began three days of talks in Japan for this year’s G7 President.
Prime Minister Kishida was safely evacuated on Saturday from a site where he had been scheduled to give a speech and shortly before an explosion was heard, according to police.
An object was thrown, prompting Mr. Kishida’s removal. By the time of the explosion, the Prime Minister had been taken away from the area, according to the police department in Wakayama – the western Japanese city where the episode happened.
It is not clear what the explosive object was, but it did not result in serious damage or injuries, police said.
Video footage posted by the national broadcaster, NHK, on Saturday showed police officers, a security detail and what appeared to be members of the public tackling the man the police say is the suspect.
The man, who was carrying a gray and black backpack and wearing beige pants, black Adidas sneakers and a blue jacket, appeared to struggle as the police and security officers half-dragged, half-carried him from the scene.
Separate video footage on NHK showed the suspect holding a slender gray canister shortly before the loud explosive sound was heard.
NHK footage showed billowing white smoke rising from a site close to a fishing port where supporters had gathered late Saturday morning to wait for the Prime Minister to arrive.
Mr. Kishida had been scheduled to give a stump speech in support of a lower house candidate from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who is running in a special election.
A 24 year old suspect has been arrested according to Wakayama Police.
Less than a year ago, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot during a campaign speech in Nara, a city not far from Wakayama, unsettling a society where gun violence is rare. Mr. Abe was killed two days before a general election last July.
Mr. Kishida was briefly taken to a police station in Wakayama after he was evacuated from the scene of the explosion. Speaking outside the city’s main train station just over an hour after the episode, he apologized to supporters and vowed to keep on campaigning.
“We are holding an important election for our country, and we must work together with all of you to see it through,” he said.
Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary general of the Liberal Democrats, said it was “an outrage” that the episode had occurred “during the election period, which is the foundation of democracy.”
On Twitter, the Liberal Democrats and Mr. Kishida said he would continue to give campaign speeches as scheduled later in the day.
Mr. Kishida’s vow to carry on with his schedule echoed a former Japanese emperor, Akihito, who did not suspend events during a visit as crown prince to Okinawa in 1975 after a protester had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the emperor and his wife.
About the G7
The international Group of Seven (G7) is an intergovernmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States with the European Union (EU) as a “non-enumerated member”.
As of 2020, G7 members account for over half of global net wealth (at over $200 trillion), 30-43 percent of global gross domestic product, and 10 percent of the world’s population – 770 million people.