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Mieko Nakabayashi was in a tv studio, ready to be interviewed about Boris Johnson’s resignation, when she heard that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been shot throughout a marketing campaign speech.
Ms Nakabayashi, a former lawmaker and professor of political science at Waseda College, mentioned she and the present’s hosts have been “amazed”, including that they “could not imagine this might occur in Japan”.
It was a sentiment felt throughout the nation, the place violence of any sort is uncommon, and the place earlier than Friday, the concept of making an attempt to kill a politician appeared like a relic of a bygone period.
Gun violence is nearly unparalleled in Japan, which has a few of the strictest gun legal guidelines on the earth. In 2021, there have been solely 10 shootings, leading to one dying and 4 accidents, in keeping with knowledge from the Nationwide Police Company.
Tempers hardly ever run excessive in Japan’s famously quiet politics. Even the far-right teams that recurrently cruise town streets in black vans, broadcasting political propaganda, are seen as extra of a nuisance than a menace to public security.
Police safety at political occasions is scarce, and throughout the marketing campaign season, voters have many alternatives to work together with the nation’s high leaders.
Assassination was a daily function of Japan’s turbulent politics within the years main as much as World Conflict II. However since then, solely a handful of politicians have been assassinated.
The final nationwide killing of a political determine was in 1960, when a 17-year-old excessive nationalist stabbed to dying the chief of Japan’s Socialist Occasion, Inejiro Asanuma.
The identical 12 months, one other ultra-nationalist attacked Abe’s grandfather, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, repeatedly stabbing him within the leg and sending him to hospital.
In latest a long time, what little political violence Japan has seen has usually been linked to organized crime or right-wing teams. In 2007, Kazunaga Ito, the mayor of Nagasaki, was shot lifeless by a gang member.
Journalists have additionally been occasional targets. In 1987, a reporter for the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun newspaper was assassinated, in an incident linked to right-wing anti-Korean teams.
Occasionally, protesters have voiced their grievances by taking their very own lives, hoping to garner public sympathy for his or her causes. Most famously, the novelist Yukio Mishima dedicated suicide in 1970 after main a small group of right-wing militants in a failed coup.
Gerald L. Curtis, emeritus professor of political science at Columbia College, mentioned the try on Mr. Abe’s life would reverberate in Japan’s politics.
“It can definitely shock Japanese folks terribly and reinforce the view that Japan is now not the secure and peaceable nation it has been because the finish of World Conflict II and has to vary to cope with the brand new horrifying realities it faces,” he mentioned. . in an electronic mail.
“The query is how Japan’s political leaders reply.”
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