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A reenactment of the assassination of Abe causes controversy on Weibo.
A reenactment of the assassination of Abe causes controversy on Weibo.

A reenactment of the assassination of Abe causes controversy on Weibo.

A reenactment of the assassination of former Japanese President Shinzo Abe was performed during a high school field day in Zaozhuang, Shandong. This has sparked a renewed online discussion about the growing anti-Japanese sentiment in China. While the world was shocked by Abe’s assassination in 2022, the Chinese government’s official statement reflected a similar sentiment. However, on Chinese social media and in certain areas of the country, there was a sense of joy and celebration. Some on Weibo even praised Abe’s assassin as a “hero of the Anti-Japanese War” (referring to World War Two). One restaurant even offered an “Abe Banquet Meal Deal” on the food delivery app Meituan. This led to a series of anti-Japanese incidents, such as the arrest of a woman who paid for memorial tablets for Japanese war criminals and the cancellation of Japan-inspired festivals. There was also an incident in Suzhou where a woman wearing a kimono in public was arrested. The release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in late August 2023 further intensified anti-Japanese sentiment. The students in Shandong who performed the skit connecting Abe’s assassination to the Fukushima wastewater release held up a banner that read, “Two Gunshots Leave A Cold Corpse, Wastewater Release Leaves A Long Aftermath.” The video of this incident was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The response on Weibo to the skit was varied. Some praised it, while others dismissed it with laughter. There were also those who made dark jokes about Abe’s lack of reaction, and a few expressed being disturbed by it.

@大风吹奏: “Japanese demons, have a refreshing drink.”

If they happen to fall on a train, I hope their legs are injured.

I hope they sink with the ship if they are at sea.

During our childhood, we often sang songs with similar themes. Is there any harm in children performing a skit? To those who are criticizing the children, where were you when Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine? (Note: OP used a term that sounds like Yasukuni but is vulgar.) Every action has its consequences. If Japan had not invaded China, would we still hold resentment towards them? We do not promote hatred, but neglecting history would be a betrayal.

@SutiLiu_WKLY: Since Abe has not expressed his opinion on the issue, why should we care?

@TearingGarlic: Why is there a need for an investigation? It was simply a skit, there is no need to turn it into a political battle.

“@Laughter in Underwear: Absolutely! What is the issue with the skit? This animosity is ingrained in our culture. The children performed admirably.”

@月为2011: It’s alarming that everyone in the comments is backing them up. It’s important to remember history but that doesn’t mean we should embrace unfettered hatred.

A hashtag associated with the skit quickly gained popularity on Weibo, reaching the second spot on the trending chart. However, it then experienced a sudden drop in engagement, suggesting that Weibo censors may have intervened to “moderate the discussion”. The following graph illustrates the dramatic spike and decline of the hashtag within a few hours.

A chart showing a hashtag relating to Abe's assassination rising to #2 on Weibo's trending list and then falling quickly soon after

A graph depicting the rapid increase and decrease of a Weibo hashtag centered on the Abe assassination parody.

It is unclear whether certain comments were removed by censors or voluntarily deleted by users, but one popular comment was taken down after gaining widespread attention. The Weibo user @浙人无为 expressed disapproval of the skit and suggested that it could lead to Japanese students imitating it with Xi Jinping instead of Abe. They stated, “I object to the skit. Many people are narrow-minded and lack understanding. If we do this to them, won’t they do the same to us? How would you feel if some Japanese people performed a skit about the assassination of a Chinese leader? It’s like cursing out someone’s parents – of course they will retaliate and curse back at yours.”