Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida narrowly escaped an explosive attack on Saturday while campaigning in western Japan.
The attack occurred during a campaign event in the city of Wakayama, where Kishida was set to give a speech in support of a candidate for local office. Footage of the attack shows Japanese police detaining a 24–year–old named Kimura after an explosive device was thrown toward the Prime Minister. One police officer was injured in the attack, but Kishida was unharmed.
The incident is the latest in a series of attacks against Japanese politicians in recent months, with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe famously assassinated last year. Abe, a center-right politician, was Japan’s longest–serving prime minister since WWII, serving between 2012 and 2020.
Tetsuya Yamagami, who allegedly shot Abe in July with a homemade gun, will stand trial for murder and a gun charge, according to the Nara District Court. Yamagami has said that the killing was motivated by Abe’s alleged ties to the Unification Church. Yamagami disliked the church because of his mother’s large financial donations to it, and its influence on the public square is controversial in Japan.
The attack on Kishida occurred less than one year after Abe’s death and is a stark reminder of the danger that Japanese politicians face due to the political climate. Investigators have not yet announced a motive for the attack, but police did detain a young man who they tackled to the ground shortly after “the suspicious object” was thrown. Some have speculated that the object thrown could have been a smoke bomb.
Japanese PM Fumio Kishida was evacuated unharmed after what appeared to be a smoke bomb was thrown at him while he was on a campaign trail in western Japan https://t.co/v6sfftIBO6 pic.twitter.com/PgbSCsQ59F
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 15, 2023
“We are holding an important election for our country, and we must work together with all of you to see it through,” Kishida said after the attack as his party, the Liberal Democrats, announced that they would continue to hold campaign events before upcoming elections.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated unharmed after someone threw an explosive device at a campaign event in western Japan. Police subdued a man at the scene https://t.co/q7U9WXf0mR pic.twitter.com/0nakpBIPiA
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 15, 2023
“Elections are the core of democracy, and we should never tolerate threats or obstruction by violence,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
The incident could have implications for an upcoming meeting of G7 diplomats in Japan, where the Russia–Ukraine War, China, and North Korea are expected to be discussed.
The attack on Kishida serves as a reminder of the danger that Japanese politicians face and the importance of maintaining a safe and secure political environment. It is incumbent upon the Japanese government to do its utmost to protect its politicians and ensure that the democratic process is not disrupted by violence.