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Japan PM blast suspect filed lawsuit over election rules

The suspect has been named as 24-year-old Ryuji Kimura. ©AFP

Tokyo (AFP) - A man accused of throwing an explosive at Japan's prime minister had previously filed a lawsuit against the government, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

Japanese media said the lawsuit filed in June by the suspect, named as 24-year-old Ryuji Kimura, was a complaint about the country's minimum age for running in elections.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was unharmed after the attack on Saturday, in which a suspected pipe bomb was tossed towards him at a campaign event at a port in western Japan.

Kimura was arrested at the scene of the incident, which occurred less than a year after former prime minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated on the campaign trail.

Under Japanese law, candidates for upper house elections must be 30 or older, while the minimum age to run for parliament's lower house is 25.

Kimura's lawsuit argued it was unconstitutional he could not run in last summer's upper house vote, the Yomiuri Shimbun and other outlets reported, citing court records.

An Osaka High Court spokesman told AFP that Kimura had sued the government but his claim was rejected by a lower court.

Kimura has appealed, and the Osaka court will issue its ruling next month.

Local media said Kimura had sought 100,000 yen ($750) in damages for the "mental distress" of not being able to stand for election.

As well as not meeting the age requirement, Kimura was unable to provide a mandatory three million yen ($22,000) deposit that all candidates must pay, the Yomiuri said.

Police are investigating if the explosive thrown at Kishida shortly before he gave a speech in Wakayama had lethal power, local media said.Two people reportedly suffered light injuries in the attack.

In a document submitted to the court after his lawsuit was filed, Kimura had reportedly criticised a state funeral that was held for Abe, whose murder traumatised the nation.

He also reportedly criticised Abe's alleged links to the Unification Church among other organisations.

Abe's alleged assassin, Tetsuya Yamagami, reportedly targeted the politician over his links to the sect, whose followers are colloquially known as "Moonies".

Saturday's attack took place as G7 climate ministers met in northern Japan, and a day before the bloc's foreign ministers also kicked off talks in the country.

Japan's voting age was lowered to 18 from 20 in 2016.

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