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Explosion at Political Rally Triggers Evacuation of Prime Minister

The explosion took place at the harbor in Wakayama, where the Japanese Prime Minister was about to give a campaign speech in the upcoming by-election.



The suspect is apprehended in Wakayama City, at about 11:31 AM (© Kyodo)

In the late morning of April 15, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated from a venue in Wakayama, western Japan, after a man reportedly threw what appears to be a smoke bomb. The object produced the sound of an explosion and white smoke. 

The prime minister was reported to be safe. And no injuries were reported at the venue, according to local media. 

Prime Minister Kishida toured the Wakayama City fishing port earlier that same morning. At about 11:20 AM, after a fish tasting, Kishida was about to deliver a speech near the port. It was then that a loud explosion sound was heard. There was suddenly white smoke and the prime minister was escorted away from the scene. 

The police subsequently arrested a young man who was thought to have brought the explosive device. According to local media, the suspect appeared to be in his 30s, wearing casual clothes and sneakers. The suspect is arrested on suspicion of obstructing business by force.

A man present on the scene told NHK, the national broadcasting corporation, that he saw the young man throw something. People surrounding the man then scattered. Next, he heard a loud noise and saw white smoke. 

A woman who spoke to The Sankei Shimbun reflected, saying "It was really scary." NHK footage showed several members of the police pinning down the alleged suspect. 

Incident Occurred During By-Election

Hiroshi Moriyama, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party election task force, told NHK, "I was surprised to hear the news. It is extremely regrettable and an unforgivable outrage to have this happen during the period of an election, which is the foundation of democracy."

Mr Kishida's speech was also part of the political campaign for the local elections. Voting in the by-election is set for April 23. The prime minister plans to continue his campaigning for LDP candidates as scheduled at Wakayama station and Chiba, according to local media. 

Public crimes and disturbances are quite rare in Japan. Tension is nevertheless high following the fatal attack on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022. That attack took place not so far away, in Nara, during a political rally. 


Author: Arielle Busetto