Attack against democracy and the right to express one’s views. A relic of prewar Japan’s political killings. Terrorism.
After the daylight assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a major political force even after he stepped down in 2020 as the nation’s longest-serving political leader, by a homemade gun, there is widespread public outrage, handwringing, and defiance vows by politicians and on social media.
It was the liberal Asahi daily, a frequent target of Abe’s conservative, often history-revisionist views, that said, “The bullet penetrated the cornerstone of democracy,” in a front-page editorial after the assassination. “We quake with wrath.” Seeing iPhones and handbags left unattended at cafés is part of the collective rage in Japan, since crime is so rare. Gun assaults are very uncommon, yet they have occurred, particularly in recent years and particularly in political circumstances.
It’s also worth noting that Abe was shot and died in the midst of a campaign speech for Japan’s legislative elections, which the country takes seriously despite its long history of one-party rule and rising voter indifference.
Author and doctor Mikito Chinen said on Twitter that he went out and voted on Sunday to show that “democracy won’t be crushed by violence.” For the first time in postwar Japan, a former or serving leader has been assassinated, says a professor of crisis management at Nihon University, Mitsuru Fukuda, and the implications might be dire.
Many individuals fear being assaulted for their political ideas since politicians and dignitaries might be targeted at any moment, according to Fukuda.
It was a time of assassinations, government intimidation of dissidents, and restrictions on free speech and assembly when many here recall the political and social unrest of prewar Japan, when the authorities demanded absolute obedience at home as imperial troops marched across Asia; it was the antithesis of democracy.
Although there have been certain instances of political violence, such as the revolt at the US Capitol in Washington in January of 2021, political killing is rare in contemporary liberal democracies.
Police and media sources suggest that the alleged shooter, who was captured after being assaulted by security, had no political purpose.
However, assassination reemerging just days before national elections in one of the world’s most stable and affluent countries – and one that acts, along with its US ally, as a political and security bulwark against the likes of China and North Korea – has raised fears that something fundamental has changed.
The assassination of a former prime minister is “an assault on us all” in Japan, according to an editorial in The Japan Times. “Terrorism was the act of which this was committed.” After Abe’s death, politicians continued their campaigns, and the governing Liberal Democratic Party, of which Abe was a former leader, won a greater win than predicted on Sunday.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared before the election that “in the midst of our election, which is the backbone of democracy, we certainly must never allow violence block off free expression.”
There are infrequent instances of severe violence in Japan, in spite of the country’s excellent living standards and outstanding safety, including assaults carried out by people who express a feeling of failure and loneliness.
Another recent incident had a guy in a Joker costume who attacked an elderly man before setting fire to a train and attempted to assault more people with a knife in Tokyo in October..
In 1960, a right-wing assassin slashed at socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma in front of a crowd of tens of thousands, killing him with a sword in front of a political rally.
Gun assaults, on the other hand, are a very other matter.
The strongest gun control rules in the world are based on instructions given by U.S. soldiers in 1946, when Japan was occupied by American forces. In 2020, police made 21 guns arrests, 12 of which were gang-related, according to the latest Justice Ministry annual crime study.
Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa was fired at at a speech in 1994, but the bullet missed him. In 2007, Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Ito was shot and killed in his office.
Professor Stephen Nagy of Tokyo’s International Christian University stated that many individuals he’s spoken to believe Abe’s attack was a “lone wolf occurrence,” not an assault on democracy.
This will have ramifications for internal politics, Nagy said, since the greatest political group (Abe’s) recently lost their leader.
Security for political and commercial leaders in Japan has always been laxer than in the United States and Europe, with the exception of very high-profile international events.
In part, this was due to the absence of perceived danger.
This assault on Abe might lead to an urgent assessment of Japanese security procedures and strengthening of protection at large-scale events since it was so public.
According to Fukuda, politicians in Japan used to be able to interact with the general public informally, such as by shaking hands and chitchatting. “It was a great place to work, but we may be losing it,” he said.