Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has escaped unhurt after he was attacked with what could be a smoke bomb during an election campaign in the city of Wakayama.
Mr Kishida was out to campaign for his party for the upcoming House of Representatives election in the Wakayama district. He was about to begin his speech when a 24-year-old man threw a silver cylinder at him. Moments later, a loud explosion-like sound was heard, and smoke filled the air.
However, the Prime Minister escaped unhurt, and citizens in attendance ran for safety. So far, there has been no report of death or injury.
“I was stunned. My heart is still beating fast,” an eyewitness told NHK.
Kishida continues campaigning
Following the bomb scare, Prime Minister Kishida was reportedly taken to another location where he was heavily guarded by the police. Later on Saturday, he was in another venue to continue the campaign for the April 23 elections, where he said the Police were investigating the incident.
“Right now, we are in the midst of an important election campaign. We need to continue with the help of all of you,” Kishida said as he continues his campaign at another venue in Wakayama.
The suspect, a 24-year-old, was arrested by the police for “forcible obstruction of business.” The police have declined to make comments about the incident. According to Japan’s laws, he could spend at least three years in prison if found guilty.
Hiroshi Moriyama, the election strategy chairman of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party, told NHK that the incident was “an unforgivable atrocity.”
“That something like this happened in the middle of an election campaign that constitutes the foundation of democracy is regrettable. It’s an unforgivable atrocity,” Moriyama said.
The comparison with Shinzo Abe’s shooting
Saturday’s attack on Fumio Kishida reminds the people of Japan of one thing. The murder of Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of the country. He was shot in broad daylight when he was giving a campaign speech in Nara, east of the Japanese city of Osaka.
According to local reports, Abe was shot on the right side of his neck. He collapsed immediately and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
His death led to criticism of the country’s police force that failed to avert the murder. The assassin would later confess that he committed the crime because of the former Prime minister’s involvement in the Unification Church which drained her mother’s entire savings.