News outlets in Greece and Iran, as well as a French politician, shared images of a Japanese man in a Joker T-shirt lugging around a Che Guevara bag and claimed it was the assassin of Shinzo Abe. It wasn’t, the images were of famed Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima.
The mistake first started going viral after French far-right politician Damien Rieu tweeted out pictures of Kojima in response to another politician’s tweet about the assassination. “Far left extremism kills,” Rieu posted above a picture of the world famous game designer wearing a Soviet fur cap.
Rieu also retweeted another post from the French account @JordiPasAlba that implicated Kojima as the killer. @JordiPasAlba has since deleted his tweet and reposted it as a screengrab, saying it was all a bad joke. Rieu also deleted the tweets but not before people had screenshotted it and shared it widely.
This kind of thing is common online where rumors in the wake of violence and disasters proliferate quickly, but at least two news outlets also reported the information seriously. In Iran, Mashregh News posted a picture of the killer and implied it was Kojima, before updating the story after people in the comment’s section pointed out the error. A video posted to YouTube by Greek news outlet ANT1 made the same mistake, also running the pictures of Kojima. The news outlet deleted the video, but copies of it still exist online.
The source for the rumor seems to be 4chan. In a thread posted to the /pol/ politically incorrect board after the shooting, an anonymous poster claimed the identity of the shooter was a 58-year-old man living in Tokyo who was a “known leftwing extremist.” A picture of Kojima’s face was superimposed on an image of the real shooter’s arrest. A reply to this post listed the three pictures of Kojima that have appeared in every interaction of the memetic mistake.
Obviously, Kojima had absolutely nothing to do with the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Police immediately arrested the suspected shooter, whose name is Tetsuya Yamagami.