Bomb Thrown at Japan PM Could Have Been Fatal at Lower Trajectory

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Saikazaki fishing port, where a device exploded Saturday, is seen that day in Wakayama City. The exploded object was found on the net of a fish pond next to the warehouse at left.

How deadly were the explosive devices allegedly in the possession of Ryuji Kimura, the suspect arrested in the recent attack on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida?

One cylindrical object was thrown at Kishida just before his speech in Wakayama City on Saturday, while another was found at the scene.

“It’s scary to think what could have happened if it had hit someone in the head,” the 76-year-old leader of the Saikazaki Fisheries Cooperative Association said Monday.

At the Saikazaki fishing port where the incident took place, a dent 5 centimeters in diameter was found on the wall of a warehouse. The bomb thrown at Kishida was found on the net of a fish pond next to the warehouse.

The distance from the explosion site to the warehouse wall was about 40 meters. It is believed that the bomb exploded and hit the wall at a height of about three meters from the ground, then rebounded.

According to investigative sources, the bomb exploded and its trajectory sent it above the people who had gathered for Kishida’s speech without hitting the 6-meter-high roof at the outdoor site.

“If it had flown a little lower, people might have been seriously injured or killed,” said a senior Wakayama prefectural police official.

According to photographs taken at the site, the thrown bomb and the cylinder found at the site where Kimura was subdued were each about 20 centimeters long. They are nearly identical in shape and both have lids on each end. They have metal parts and a string that appears to be a fuse.

Pipe bombs are cylindrical and sealed at both ends. When these bombs are ignited, the pressure inside them increases, causing them to explode.

During a search of Kimura’s home in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, powder believed to be material for gunpowder, metal tubes and various tools were among items seized by investigators. Police suspect that Kimura, 24, made the explosive devices by himself.

“It is highly likely that black powder, which is used in fireworks for example, was used,” as white smoke was visible in video footage, said firearms researcher Soichiro Takakura, 46.

Pipe bombs can be broadly classified into how they are detonated, whether by a lit fuse or a timer that sends an electrical current.

Takakura believes that the pipe bombs found in this incident had fuses. The bomb exploded about 50 seconds after it was thrown, during which the prime minister was able to evacuate.

“I suspect the bomb didn’t explode immediately due to design errors or the condition of the explosives,” Takakura said.

Related stories