(Tokyo) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida resumed his electoral activities on Saturday after being evacuated safe and sound from an explosion in the west of the country where he was preparing to deliver a speech, Japanese media reported.
This incident comes just nine months after the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during an election campaign event last July, which shocked Japan and abroad and forced the archipelago to review its measures. of security.
A 24-year-old man from the Hyogo region (west) was arrested, Wakayama police told AFP. No information has yet been given on the reason for this explosion.
“There was a loud explosion…Police are investigating to find out the details, but I would like to apologize for causing concern and inconvenience to many people,” Kishida said early Saturday afternoon ( Japanese time) in front of Wakayama station, a few kilometers from the scene of the incident.
“An important campaign for our country is unfolding, and we must work together and see it through,” he added.
He was also scheduled to participate in another public event in the afternoon in Chiba, near Tokyo.
The Japanese leader was due to speak in the fishing port of Saikazaki on Saturday morning to support a candidate from his party in view of a by-election, and had just tasted local fish when a movement of panic took hold of the crowd.
Several media outlets, including the Kyodo News Agency, reported that an object resembling a “smoke bomb” was thrown and TV footage showed a crowd moving before an explosion sounded, followed by a release of white smoke.
NHK broadcast footage showing a person held to the ground by police as the crowd dispersed, and reported that a man had been arrested at the scene on suspicion of “obstructing business”.
“I ran frantically, then about ten seconds later I heard a loud noise and my child started crying. I was in shock. My heart is still beating really hard,” a woman at the scene told NHK.
Another person told the TV station that a panic among the crowd was triggered even before the explosion, when one person said he saw someone throw an explosive device.
“It is unfortunate that such an incident happened in the middle of an election campaign, which is the foundation of democracy. This is an unforgivable atrocity,” Hiroshi Moriyama, head of election strategy for the LDP, told NHK.
Japan has tightened its security arrangements after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed last July while speaking at an election campaign event.
The security apparatus protecting Mr. Abe was relatively light, and his assassination prompted a thorough examination of how politicians are protected.
Japan’s national police chief later resigned, after acknowledging “failures” in protecting the former prime minister.
His alleged killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, said he targeted Mr. Abe because of his alleged ties to the Moon Sect, also known as the Unification Church.
The suspect resented this group, to which his mother would have made very large donations, leading their family to ruin.
Saturday’s new incident comes as Japan hosts G7 ministerial meetings this weekend, and the leaders’ summit of the group’s countries is to be held in May in Hiroshima.
In Sapporo, the US President’s special climate envoy John Kerry said he was “very concerned” after hearing about the incident. Mr. Kishida “is a personal friend and someone I greatly admire,” he added.