Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was safely evacuated Saturday after a man appeared to throw an explosive device in his direction at a campaign event.
The incident happened at a small fishing port in Wakayama, in western Japan, where Kishida was scheduled to give a speech in support of a ruling party candidate for upcoming elections.
Video from the scene showed a man throwing what appeared to be a small metal pipe or canister, which landed near Kishida. Security agents quickly knocked the object away and rushed Kishida away.
According to videos posted on social media, the explosion did not occur until at least 30 seconds after it was thrown, possibly allowing people to evacuate the immediate area. No injuries have been reported.
Video also showed several police tackling a young man in a black hoodie. Japanese media reported Ryuji Kimora, a 24-year-old man from Hyogo Prefecture, was arrested at the scene. Police said they are still investigating a motive.
According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, police found a second, similar explosive device at the scene. It is not clear what type of explosive was used.
Kishida, who was evacuated by car, continued his planned political activities later Saturday, vowing the incident would not derail the April 23 by-elections for Japan’s lower house of parliament.
“Together with you all, we have to carry on with the election,” Kishida said at a speech at another location in Wakayama, according to the Kyodo news agency.
The incident was especially unnerving since it came just eight months after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by a man with a homemade gun during a public political event.
Political violence has been extremely rare in Japan in recent decades. But the Abe assassination prompted calls for tighter security at political events, where politicians frequently interact with citizens in a highly personal manner.
“Japan has had almost a year to improve security since the Abe assassination and will host world leaders at a G-7 summit next month,” said Jeffrey J. Hall, a Japanese politics specialist at the Kanda University of International Studies.
“Questions will be asked about whether enough was done to prevent this man from throwing an explosive device at the prime minister,” he added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno vowed the government will take necessary steps to ensure security at the G-7 and called for the National Police Agency to ensure the protection of high-profile figures.