This is breaking news. I cannot find a source in English yet. Prime Minister Kishida was giving a speech in Wakayama Prefecture when a man threw a pipe toward him. The pipe made a loud exploding noise and produced white smoke, but does not appear to have done any damage. The man has been apprehended.
Here is English.
This article has a picture of what seriously looks like a pipebomb.
ETA: The updated Reuters article now seems a bit different than some earlier accounts.
Kishida was being served local speciality seafood just before the explosion, media reported. News video showed Kishida looking behind him in surprise as shouts filled the area.
A man identified by the Asahi newspaper as a staffer of the fishery cooperative grabbed a young man in a headlock as police swarmed the suspect and dragged him to the ground. Moments later, an explosion and cloud of smoke could be seen near where Kishida had been standing.
The Japan Times article now says it was two fishermen, on video. Their article and the AP article don’t give the impression that Kishida was eating at the time. The AP headline seems more sensational. “Japanese PM unhurt after blast shakes port he was visiting”
The Japanese press is saying 発煙筒のようなもの, which means, “something like a smoke bomb.” It’s not entirely clear if it was a smoke bomb or a dud pipebomb, but it does seem to have mostly just produced smoke and a bang sound.
The police are calling it 爆発物, which means “explosive.”
As far as I can tell, there were no injuries whatsoever.
Taking bets on when MTG will cite this as an opportunity where a good guy with a gun could have stopped pipe-thrower… while totally missing the near certainty of the PM being assassinated if the guy had a gun. Note: Japan has very strict gun laws.
The suspect has been identified as Ryuji Kimura, age 24, of Hyogo Prefecture (hey, that’s where I live).
ETA: This is what he looks like. He looks like a college kid.
Police are reporting that Ryuji Kimura was carrying a second metallic cylinder when he was arrested. His motives are still unclear, and it seems that he is remaining silent.
I cannot help but get a sense of deja vu. This is very similar to what happened last year with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Just like Abe, Prime Minister Kishida was about to give a speech stumping for a local candidate in a local election. Wakayama Prefecture is right next to Nara Prefecture. Even the news alerts on my phone looked similar.
This time, instead of a major train station, it happened at a fishing port. Evidently, the suspect was first tackled by local fishermen, rather than the Japanese version of the Secret Service (the failure of the security detail was also a major issue pointed out at the time of Abe’s assassination).
The media is increasingly using the word “explosive” instead of “smoke bomb” in their reporting. I am seeing reporting that two bombs were in fact thrown, and one of them was a dud (hence the photos showing an intact pipebomb). I am also seeing that the suspect was tackled a good 20 seconds before the bang, and they are saying that there could have been injuries if people hadn’t run away during those 20 seconds.
The suspect, Ryuji Kimura, is maintaining his silence until he has a lawyer, but has said that he will speak when he has representation.
ETA: There was one injury. A police officer on the scene sustained minor injuries (no details on the nature of the injuries). It is not clear whether this was from the bomb or during the tackling.
Late last night, the bomb squard searched Kimura’s house in the City of Kawanishi (Hyogo Prefecture) after evacuating his neighbors from the area. They did not find any other explosive devices in his home. Police were seen carrying over a dozen cardboard boxes full of evidence from his house, however.
The media has started digging into Kimura’s life story. His neighbors say that he was quiet, but seemed like a kindly young man. He lived with his mother and two younger siblings in a house with a well-kept garden. His classmates describe him as average, not the type who stood out. He played tennis in school. He did not leave much of an impression on his classmates, and never went to class reunions. His deadbeat father up and abandoned the family around the time when Ryuji Kimura graduated from high school.
They are saying that the pandemic changed him. That he became a shutin, spending most of his time in his room practicing the guitar without much in the way of human contact. There are reports that he went to a City Council meeting in Kawanishi last September, where he asked a lot of questions, such as, “Is it okay for city councillors to be making so much money?” This is all that we know about his interest in politics at this point. As of this morning, he is still maintaining his silence.
Update on Damage
Yesterday, it was reported that a police officer was injured at the scene. We now know that he (a man in his 30s) was hurt in the blast. He received cuts on his left arm that required three stiches.
Another man (in his 70s) who was at the scene was also injured by shrapnel that hit his back when he was running away. Here is a photo.
It would appear that this was no smoke bomb.
BBC, Reuters, and The Japan Times now claim Kimura also had a knife, with The Japan Times saying it was in a backpack. Western news still seems to be using “smoke bomb” but they’re more focused on the G7 meetings.
ETA: AP has a report with interviews with one of the fisherman who grabbed the suspect and a man in his 70s who, “felt something hit his shoulder.” The report still claims only one person was injured, and that there were three fisherman who responded, but one of the interviewed fishermen noted the backpack.
NHK has a video with the injured fisherman briefly being interviewed, but also a claim that a cylinder was found 40 meters away from the explosion, atop a fish tank. They don’t specify if that was a remnant of the pipe bomb which exploded, but it seems unlikely to be another pipe bomb. The video also included Kimura arriving at the event, wearing a backpack.
The Japan Times published comments by a researcher and a small arms historian who had seen video of the pipe bomb.
claiming he was unfairly barred from running for the Upper House election
yikes. well, he’s sure to be elected now
Not until he turns 30, which is the minimum age for the Upper House.
The Japan Times has published an article claiming Kimura’s lawsuit contained an objection to Abe’s state funeral. There is also a measurement for the knife, 13 cm.
Police found remnants of the object believed to have exploded 40 meters away from the site on Sunday, near a warehouse on top of the netting of a fish preserve, NHK reported. The wall of the warehouse had an indentation suggesting it may have been struck by the object, with police doing further examinations at the site.
Ryuji Kimura is still maintaining his silence until he has an attorney. Evidently, he (or rather the Wakayama Prefectural Police) contacted the law office of Kenji Utsunomiya, who is the former Chairperson of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and a leading figure in Japan’s antinuclear movement. They got an answering machine, as it was a Saturday. The police contacted Utsunomiya again on Monday to inform him that Kimura had found counsel.
The press has dug into Kimura’s Twitter and found a lot of statements critical of “Abe-style politics” and “political dynasties” (which includes Kishida) as well as the cozy relationship between these politics and the Unification Church, et al. He complained about how it costs 3M Yen (around 25k USD) just to run for office, ensuring that only vested interests and dynasties can get their hands on political power. This was evidently a big part of his lawsuit, along with the minimum age setting.
Police have found what they believe is a shrapnel hole in a container some 60m away from the bomb.
Speaking of which, the word パイプ爆弾 has entered the lexicon, a portmanteau of the English word “pipe” (パイプ) and the Japanese word “bomb” (爆弾).
I’d be curious what happened to cause the initial confusion on this point. I saw something about this on the BBC yesterday; but it was definitely ‘smoke bomb’ in the ‘political protestor gets kind of uncouth about it’ sense; but metallic housings are pretty unequivocal about indicating that your intentions are hostile even if your chemistry is not up to the job.
By all accounts, the device emitted thick white smoke for the first 20 seconds before making a bang. We now understand that this was just the fuse, but at the time, the smoke stood out in eyewitness accounts. The Japanese press would write “possibly a smoke bomb” or “like a smoke bomb,” and I think that got lost in translation in the foreign press. I also believe that the local media was not familiar with what a pipe bomb looks like. Even now, they’ve got experts explaining what a pipe bomb is.