The Story Of The Japanese Politician That Was Assassinated By A Samurai Sword

May 24, 2017 | No Comments » | Topics: Interesting

IN 1960, Inejiro Asanuma — the head of Japan’s socialist party — was assassinated onstage during a live broadcast by 17 year old Otoya Yamaguchi, a Japanese ultranationalist. 

The photo was taken directly after Yamaguchi stabbed Asanuma and is seen here attempting a second stab though he is restrained before that happens. Inejiro Asanuma was leader of the socialist party in Japan. He was unusual in postwar Japan for his forceful advocacy of socialism, and his support of the Chinese Communist Party was particularly controversial.

In 1959, Asanuma had visited China and referred to the United States as “the shared enemy of China and Japan.” He then disembarked from the plane home wearing a suit styled after Chairman Mao Zedong — a bold fashion choice at a time when Mao’s People’s Republic of China was not recognized as legitimate in Japan.

Asanuma was assassinated during a televised political debate for the coming elections for the House of Representatives. While Asanuma spoke from the lectern at Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall in front of 1,000 people, Yamaguchi rushed onstage and ran his yoroidōshi (a traditional samurai sword) through Asanuma’s ribs on the left side, killing him.

Footage of the incident was captured live by a Japanese television company.

The killer, Otoya Yamaguchi, was a member of a group which, among other things, wished to get rid of Western influence and restore Japan’s traditional culture. He chose a weapon that was fitting his purpose, and that meant getting up close and attacking with complete conviction, knowing full well that there was no way he would be getting away.

Less than three weeks after the assassination, while being held in a juvenile detention facility, Yamaguchi mixed a small amount of tooth paste with water and wrote on his cell wall: “Seven lives for my country. Long live His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!”. Yamaguchi then knotted strips of his bedsheet into a makeshift rope and used it to hang himself from a light fixture. The phrase “seven lives for my country” was a reference to the last words of 14th century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.

 

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