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Kishida recommences campaign after smoke bomb disruption in Japan

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated unharmed on Saturday after a suspect threw what appeared to be a smoke grenade in his direction while he was campaigning at a fishing port in western Japan.

Japanese media footage showed that Kishida hid after hearing an explosion while police were defeating a man at the scene. The Nikkei newspaper, citing the Wakayama Prefectural Police, reported that a police officer was slightly injured in the accident.

“The police are investigating the details of the loud explosive sound at the place where the previous speech was delivered,” Kishida said when he resumed his campaign speeches. “I’m sorry for alarming so many people. We are in the middle of an important election for our country. We must get through this together.”

The incident repeated the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-running modern leader in Japan, who was shot by a homemade pistol last July while campaigning for parliamentary elections.

Abe’s killing shocked the nation, where gun crimes are extremely rare, and led to a security review for politicians, who routinely go body-to-body with the public.

Masato Kaburagi, a 35-year-old company worker who witnessed the incident, told Reuters that security still appeared to be lax, as it appeared that a bystander had initially taken down the suspect.

“I never thought something like this would happen so soon after what happened to Abe,” said Kaburagi, who attended the rally with his wife and mother. “I don’t think I want to go to these political events anymore.”

By-elections will be held in various regions of the lower house of the Japanese parliament on April 23.

security of the G7 summit

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the police had been instructed to beef up security, and that the government would do what was necessary to ensure security at a summit Kishida will host next month of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Hiroshima.

Japan’s foreign ministry said there would be no change in the security plan for the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, which begins on Sunday in the resort city of Karuizawa.

Matsuno said the government will wait for the results of the police investigation before commenting on a possible motive from the suspect.

The accident occurred late Saturday morning at the fishing port of Saikazaki in Wakayama Prefecture, 65 km southwest of Osaka.

Media reported that Kishida was serving local seafood specialties just before the explosion. News video showed Kishida looking behind him in astonishment as shouts filled the semi-enclosed area near the waterside. An explosive device landed near his feet before a security officer expelled it.

A man identified by the Asahi newspaper as an employee of a fishing cooperative grabbed a young man in a knot as the suspect was accosted and dragged to the ground by police. About 50 seconds later, an explosion sounded and a cloud of smoke was seen near where Kishida was standing.

News footage showed crowds fleeing as several police officers appeared to pin a man to the ground before removing him from the scene. NHK reported, citing an official at the scene, that a metal pipe 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 in) in diameter was thrown and landed near where Kishida was standing.

A 24-year-old suspect from Kawanishi city, who is accused of obstructing business, refused to speak until his lawyer arrived, Kyodo news agency said, citing investigators.

A representative of the Wakayama Prefectural Police Headquarters told Reuters he could not answer questions about the incident.

A woman at the scene told NHK she saw something flying overhead and “I got a bad feeling, so we ran away incredibly fast. Then we heard a very loud noise. It made my daughter cry.”

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