Masahiko Shimada (島田 雅彦), award-winning author and professor at Faculty of Intercultural Studies at Hosei University in Tokyo, has been taken to task for saying publicly he was glad the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe was successful.
Making such a comment in itself, would certainly be enough to cause a huge outcry. But things were made worse for the professor. The large newspaper Yukan Fuji points out 20th April that the day after his obvious support for terrorism, a home-made explosive device was thrown toward current prime minister Fumio Kishida during a by-election campaign in the city of Wakayama.
Professor Shimada made his outrageous comment while debating the issue of the Unification Church, the Abe assassination, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on the internet program “Air Revolution” broadcasted live on 14th April. The comment is seen by many as an endorsement of terrorism and murder. It might in fact even trigger new terrorist attacks.
The Japan Times comes with a warning. In a commentary headlined “Don’t Allow the Attack on Kishida to Become a Trend” 16th April by columnist Gearoid Reidy, the paper comments on the second terrorist attack on a senior LDP politician in less than a year. The risk that such attacks may happen again is clearly there.
The paper warns against the positive media coverage the assassin Tetsuya Yamagami received. His grudges against the Unification Church and Abe are described as “bitter delusions”,
“Instead of recognizing this as bitter delusion and focusing on the concerning security lapses surrounding Abe’s killing, media reports instead gave Yamagami bizarrely sympathetic coverage and even took up his cause against the church. For months, Japan’s front pages and TV shows were dominated by links between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church.”
There was virtually no mention of the connections to other religious movements, even though the LDP’s government coalition partner Komeito have open links to the new Buddhist group Soka Gakkai and was founded by its members.
Japan Times points out that media reports on the connection between the Unification Church and the Liberal Democratic Party
“frequently used the language of ‘ties’ between the LDP and the church, which often meant little more than holding meetings or shaking hands.
A relentless barrage of stories focused on how senior politicians, including Abe, met with the church representatives, but failed to provide the context that politicians everywhere routinely associate with interest groups, particularly those with money.”
Japan Times reports how the assassination of Abe “was exploited for political gain.”
Masumi Fukuda, well known for her investigative journalism, described exactly how that happened. In a series of articles earlier this year in the Japanese monthly magazine Hanada, this award-winning journalist exposed how a leftwing group of activist lawyers succeeded in selling their story to the media that it was the Unification Church that was the actual perpetrator. Read the story!
Massimo Introvigne, leading scholar of sociology of religion, comments on the influence that same leftwing group of activist lawyers may have had on Abe’s assassin,
“What triggered Yamagami’s killing frenzy in 2022, and not before? We know for a fact that Yamagami followed the hate campaigns against the Unification Church prevailing in Japan. He interacted on social media with fellow enemies of the Church.
The day before killing Abe, Yamagami wrote a letter to Kazuhiro Yonemoto. Although Yonemoto deserves credit for having opposed in the past the practice of kidnapping members of the Unification Church for the purposes of deprogramming or ‘de-converting’ them, he remains an opponent of the Church. Yamagami interacted with the anti-Unification-Church milieu, and was exposed to the hate speech against the Church, which may easily have turned his weak head.” (Calling A Stag a Horse: Fake News on the Abe Assassination, an article by Massimo Introvigne in the online magazine Bitter Winter 23rd Aug. 2022)
Julian Ryall of South China Morning Post compares 18th April the similarities of the attacks on Abe and Kishida,
“Dozens of onlookers were crowding close to both Kishida and Abe. On both occasions, the attackers approached from behind and were able to get within a few metres of their targets.”
The question is of course whether Ryuji Kimura, the 24-year-old behind the home-made pipe bomb, was influenced by the Hosei University professor’s extreme statement. Kathleen Benoza, staff writer of the Japan Times, writes 18th April that Kimura filed a lawsuit in 2022, claiming that he was unfairly barred from becoming a candidate for a Upper House election. The paper points out that in a brief submitted with the lawsuit,
“Kimura also referred to Abe’s ties to the Unification Church, linking this with his lawsuit, claiming that politicians and political parties with an organized structure to garner votes would have an advantage in elections, while his own candidacy was being curbed, the Yomiuri daily reported.”
According to a short biography on Masahiko Shimada, published by The Modern Novel, a website featuring an extensive survey of literary fiction since around 1900, his novels are often written “from a left-wing point of view”. Also, his shocking statement that he was glad Abe was killed, is a strong indication that the professor may well belong to the extreme left of the political spectrum. Promoting murder and terrorism are known hallmarks of their extremism.
Text: Knut Holdhus
Featured image above: Masahiko Shimada, award-winning author and professor at Faculty of Intercultural Studies at Hosei University in Tokyo. Photo: Joi Ito / Wikimedia Commons. License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped.