Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida escapes assassination attempt
Fumio Kishhida, the Japanese Prime Minister survived an attempted assassination on Saturday, 15 April, after an explosion took place at a location where he gave an outdoor speech.
Kyodo News, a local news agency, reported that a person had been arrested for throwing “what looked like a smoke bomb.”
NHK, Japan’s public television broadcaster, released video footage showing people fleeing the scene and an arrest following the explosion.
The footage showed multiple police officers, holding the suspect on the ground. Other pictures showed a silver cylinder that was thrown in Kishida’s direction.
The dramatic scenes were filmed in Wakayama shortly after Kishida visited the local Saikazaki Fishing Port.
The circumstances surrounding this suspected attack immediately drew comparisons with the assassination in July of last year of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed during a speech for a political campaign in Nara in western Japan.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot while giving a campaign speech to a small crowd near a railway station.
The attack on Abe shocked Japan, a country with a low crime rate, and an Asian nation rarely associated with political and gun violence.
Kishida too had been giving a political speech, in his case, in support of his ruling party’s candidate in a local by-election for the House of Representatives in a Wakayama district.
A city council member who was at the scene told NHK that a “cylindrical silver object” had flown “about two meters in front of me” shortly before the explosion was heard.
Another eyewitness also reported seeing “a silver cylinder,” saying it “was thrown and then shone a bit before a big sound was heard.”
Footage from NHK showed what appeared to be a young man wearing glasses, a mask, and a gray rucksack standing among a crowd of people gathered to see Kishida’s speech.
Before the man is apprehended, he can be seen holding a silver cylinder and making hand gestures as though he is trying to light it, according to NHK.
Japanese officials said later on Saturday that Kishida was safe and unharmed.