an assault on freedom of speech and democracy. a return to the political killings that occurred in prewar Japan. Terrorism. Shinzo Abe, the nation’s longest-serving political leader, was assassinated in broad daylight with a homemade gun. The incident has sparked widespread public outrage, hand-wringing, and defiance promises from politicians and users of social media. latest news on terrorism, shinzo abe, japan democracy, shinzo abe murder, and political killings
The liberal Asahi newspaper, a frequent foe of the conservative, occasionally history-revisionist Abe, declared in a front-page editorial after the killing, “The bullet pierced the foundation of democracy.” “We quake with anger.” The fact that crime is so uncommon in Japan, where it’s common to see purses and cellphones lying unattended in cafes, contributes to some of the general outrage. Even though they have occurred, gun attacks are incredibly uncommon, particularly in recent years and particularly in political contexts.
Abe was killed close to a busy train station while giving a campaign speech for parliamentary elections, which Japan takes seriously despite a long history of one-party rule and rising voter apathy. This setting may also have contributed to the shock.
In a tweet, writer and physician Mikito Chinen stated that he voted on Sunday in order to “demonstrate that democracy will not be defeated by violence.” According to Mitsuru Fukuda, a crisis management professor at Nihon University, this attack is unusual because it is the first assassination of a current or former leader in post-World War II Japan. The repercussions could be severe.
According to Fukuda, “our society may have changed to one where politicians and dignitaries can be targeted at any time, making people anxious about being attacked for expressing their opinions in public.”
It was the antithesis of democracy, a time of assassinations, government intimidation of dissidents, and restrictions on free speech and assembly. Many here recall the political and social unrest of prewar Japan, when the authorities demanded unquestioning obedience at home as imperial troops marched across Asia.
Political killing is almost unheard of in contemporary liberal democracies, but there are still instances of political violence, such as the uprising that took place on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Although police and media reports suggest that the suspected gunman who shot Abe wasn’t motivated by politics, he was detained after being tackled by security.
However, the resurgence of assassination just days before national elections in one of the world’s most prosperous and stable nations, which also works with its U.S. ally as a political and security bulwark against neighboring countries like China and North Korea that are decidedly anti-democracy, has sparked concerns that something fundamental has changed.
The murder of a former prime minister is an attack on all of us because Japan is a democracy, according to an editorial in The Japan Times. “This was a terroristic act. After Abe’s passing, political figures continued their campaigns, and the currently in power Liberal Democratic Party—of which Abe was formerly the leader—scored a surprise victory on Sunday.
Prior to the election, amid increased security, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “We absolutely must never let violence shut out free speech in the middle of our election, which is the foundation of democracy.”
Despite the high standard of living and admirable safety in Japan, there are sporadic instances of extreme violence, including assaults committed by individuals who feel alone and failed.
One of the most recent occurred in October when a man dressed as the Joker stabbed an elderly man, spread oil, lit a Tokyo subway on fire, and attempted to use a knife to attack more people.
In terms of politics, the most notable post-war assassination occurred in 1960 when a right-winger slashed socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma with a sword in front of tens of thousands of spectators.
However, attacks with guns are a different matter.
As a result of directives given in 1946 by occupying American forces, Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. In 2020, police made 21 arrests for firearms, 12 of which were gang-related, according to the most recent Justice Ministry annual crime paper. During a speech in 1994, a shooter attempted to hit Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa but missed. Iccho Ito, the mayor of Nagasaki, was shot to death in 2007.
Many of the people Stephen Nagy has spoken to view Abe’s attack as a “lone wolf incident” rather than a strike against democracy, according to the professor of politics and international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University.
Since the largest political party (Abe’s) recently lost their leader, Nagy said, “the main worry was about the leadership void that will emerge and the implications this will have for the course of domestic politics.”
Security for political and business leaders has frequently been laxer in Japan when compared to the US and Europe, with the exception of major, high-profile international events.
That was partially caused by the impression of no threat.
However, given the nature of the very public assault on Abe, security at elections and other major events may need to be tightened as well as an urgent review of how Japan protects its officials.
According to Fukuda, Japan used to be safe enough for politicians to approach regular citizens and engage in conversation and handshakes. “It was a joyful atmosphere, but we might be losing it.” Security must be increased in a society where the possibility of an assassination exists, he said. Although it’s a bad development, there is no other way to ensure our safety.