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Hong Kong/Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Sunday to keep world leaders safe during G7 meetings in the country, a day after a man threw what appeared to be a smoke bomb at him during a campaign speech.

“Japan as a whole must strive to provide maximum security during the dates of the summit (in Hiroshima next month) and other gatherings of dignitaries from around the world,” Kishida said Sunday, in comments that came as G7 foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began three days of talks in the central Japanese town of Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture.

On Saturday, Kishida had to abandon a speech he was giving in support of his ruling party’s candidate in a by-election in Wakayama when a small explosive device was thrown at him. While Kishida was evacuated unhurt, the attack has caused shockwaves in Japan, and drawn comparisons with the assassination last year of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot in July last year during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara.

A man is held by police officers after an object was thrown near Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a speech in Wakayama, Japan, on April 15, 2023.

Prior to Abe’s death the nation had rarely been associated with either political or gun violence.

Campaigning is currently underway in Japan’s nationwide local elections and Kishida has already returned to campaigning in support of his Liberal Democratic Party.

Speaking to reporters from his official residence in Tokyo, he vowed the attack would not disrupt the democratic process.

“Violent acts taking place during elections, which are the basis of democracy, can never be tolerated,” Kishida said.

“What is important is to carry through this election to the end. It is important for our country and for our democracy that the voice of the voters is clearly expressed through the election,” he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Saturday that police would boost security when Kishida hosts the G7 summit in May, Reuters reported.

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