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Politics & Security

EDITORIAL | Explosion Targeting Kishida is Terrorism, an Attack on Democracy

The explosion constitutes interference in the election process that is the foundation of democracy. It is terrorism that could disrupt the political system.

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G7 Hiroshima Summit
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

On April 15, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was about to make an election speech in support of a local ruling party candidate in Wakayama Prefecture, a device was hurled at him by someone in the crowd of listeners, followed by an explosion. The attack on the Prime Minister took place at the Saikazaki fishing port in Wakayama City. 

Kishida was there on a campaign stop to support the election of the local Liberal Democratic Party candidate for the Wakayama 1st District in the House of Representatives. A cylindrical metal object was thrown near him just before the speech was set to start. It was followed by a loud explosion and the appearance of thick white smoke.

Mr Kishida was evacuated safely and there were no injuries to those present. Nonetheless, if the explosive device had been more powerful, it might have resulted in a major tragedy. With that possibility in mind, we must treat the incident with the gravity it deserves. 

The 24-year-old man who threw the explosive device was quickly subdued by security and bystanders around him. In addition to the device he threw, the man appeared to be in possession of another cylindrical metal object. It, too, was believed to be an explosive device.

explosion
Ryuji Kimura, the suspect in the incident of an explosive device thrown near Prime Minister Kishida, is tackled by fishermen and security guards at the campaign venue. (©Kyodo)

Attack on Democracy

Taking sinister advantage of the gathering of an anonymous crowd who came to hear a politician deliver an election speech in order to attack a national political leader is a truly despicable and heinous act. 

It constitutes interference in the election process that is the foundation of democracy. Furthermore, it is terrorism that could disrupt the national political system. 

Such a crime is unforgivable and deserves the utmost condemnation.

Afterward, Prime Minister Kishida canceled his speech at the crime scene. Later, however, he went on to deliver a scheduled election support speech in front of JR Wakayama Station. In that speech he said, "I ask all of you to join with me to fight together to the end in this important election."

Later, he also made speeches in Ichikawa and Urayasu cities in Chiba Prefecture. There, he supported a candidate in the by-election for the House of Representatives, Chiba 5th District. 

The Prime Minister demonstrated to all in this manner that he would not give in to terrorism. That was exactly the right thing to do.

Both the ruling and opposition parties were quick to condemn the crime. Hopefully, every party and candidate will carry through with their campaigns for the national by-elections and local elections. It is important, in order to safeguard democracy. 

Ensuring the Right Security

We also expect the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the motives and background of the man they arrested. We should also worry that sympathizers will emerge. In response to the incident, it is no wonder the National Police Agency has issued a nationwide directive to strengthen security for dignitaries. 

It was in July 2022 when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was felled by a bullet while delivering a street-corner campaign speech during the Upper House election. 

Security for dignitaries was supposed to have been strengthened after that. However, we now have an explosive device being thrown at an election rally where the incumbent prime minister was present. We must quickly determine whether there were any problems with the security at the event.

Campaigning by political parties and politicians emphasizes direct interaction with voters. There are effective security measures for preventing incidents such as terrorist attacks. For example, maintaining a distance between dignitaries and their audiences and inspection of the belongings of those in attendance. Still, increasing security while balancing these conflicting considerations is admittedly a challenging task. 

Nevertheless, we expect security officials to make every effort to ensure both democracy and orderly security.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun