Japanese prime minister safe after blast heard at speech

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated from a port in Wakayama after a blast was heard, but he was unharmed in the incident, local media reported Saturday.

Several reports, including by Kyodo news agency, said an apparent “smoke bomb” had been thrown but there were no immediate signs of injuries or damage at the scene.

Cell phone video from the scene captured the chaos as the crowd scattered after the sound of the blast.  

A person was detained at the site in western Japan’s Wakayama, where Kishida had been due to give a speech, national broadcaster NHK and others said. NHK showed footage of security and police detaining an individual.

Kishida had just finished sampling fish at the site and was about to deliver remarks to a crowd in support of a ruling party candidate in upcoming lower house by-elections when the incident occurred.

“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,” Hiroshi Moriyama, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s election strategy chairman, told NHK.

The person detained was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of business, the broadcaster said.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the incident, with local police declining to comment.

Last July, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot while giving an outdoor speech in the western Japanese city of Nara. Police arrested the suspect at the scene, and he was later charged with murder.

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