TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was evacuated and unhurt after a suspect threw what appeared to be a smoke bomb at an outdoor event in western Japan on Saturday, Japanese media reported.

A loud explosion was also heard, but the Premier took cover and was unharmed while police subdued a man at the scene, public broadcaster NHK said. There were no injuries, NHK said, citing police.

Police are investigating the details of the loud explosive sound at the previous speech venue, Mr Kishida said when he resumed his campaign speeches, in a video broadcast by NHK.

I am sorry for causing many people to be concerned. We are in the middle of an important election for our country. We must carry this on together.

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader of modern Japan, was assassinated with a homemade gun last July while campaigning for a parliamentary election. The incident shocked the nation and prompted a review of security for politicians, who routinely meet members of the public.

By-elections in various regions for the Lower House of Japans Parliament are to be held on April 23.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said police have been instructed to boost security and that the government will do what is necessary to ensure security at the upcoming Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Hiroshima.

Mr Matsuno said the government would wait for results from the police investigation before commenting on a potential motive from the suspect.

The incident occurred at the Saikazaki fishing harbour in Wakayama prefecture, some 65km south-west of Osaka city. Pipe thrown

Mr Kishida was being served local speciality seafood just before the explosion, media reported. News video showed Mr Kishida looking behind him in surprise as shouts filled the area.

A man identified by the Asahi newspaper as an employee 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 Mr Kishida had been standing.

NHK video showed the thrown object, which appeared to be a metal cylinder.

NHK footage showed crowds of people running away as several police officers appeared to pin an individual to the ground before removing him from the scene. The man appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, media reports said. Embed Twitter Tweet URL A representative of Wakayamas prefectural police headquarters told Reuters he could not answer questions about the incident. Police arrested a 24-year-old male suspect from Kawanishi city, Kyodo reported.

Mr Kishida was about to deliver a speech after touring the harbour when the incident occurred. The speech was scheduled for 11.40am local time (10.40am Singapore time), according to Mr Kishidas ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Mr Kishida was to continue his Saturday afternoon campaign schedule after the incident, the LDP confirmed via its Twitter account.

A woman at the scene told NHK she saw an object flying overhead and that it gave her a bad feeling. A cylindrical object left at the site of Japan PM Fumio Kishidas speech in Saikazaki, Wakayama Prefecture, on April 15, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS Then we heard a really loud noise. It made my daughter cry, she said.

Mr Kishida is to host the G-7 summit in Hiroshima next month.

Japans Foreign Ministry said after the incident that there would be no change to the security plan for a G-7 foreign ministers meeting starting on Sunday in the resort city of Karuizawa. REUTERS More On This Topic Shooting of Japan's former PM Shinzo Abe: How it happened Assassination of Shinzo Abe raises questions about security for VIPs in Japan

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