I happened to be watching NHK Japan last night when the shocking news broke that Japan’s former prime minister was shot. He was taken to a local hospital unresponsive and was later pronounced dead. He was 67 years old. Abe Shinzo was Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. He was in office for 12 years before declining health forced him to step down in 2020. Abe was prime minister while Bush 43, Obama and Trump were president.
Tributes are pouring in from not just across Japan but around the world. The former prime minster’s assassination has also shattered the sense of peace and safety from gun violence Japan has long enjoyed since the end of World War II. Japan has long been known as one of the safest countries in the world. For context, it’s very common to see preschool-aged children using public transportation unattended in Tokyo and Osaka. For the most part, tou do not need to look over your shoulder when walking around at night.
While the assassin was arrested on the spot, the body blow he dealt to Japan will be felt for some time. The assassin was a former JSDF soldier and made the gun he used himself. Personally, I am concerned that may have permanently shattered the collective sense of safety from random gun violence the people of Japan have enjoyed for generations.
Many Japanese officials condemned the assassination as an attack on not just Democracy but an attack on Free Speech. Abe was speaking at a public event in Nara at the time he was killed. One of the so far known motives behind the assassination was the assassin held hatred toward what’s being referred to as a “certain group” he mistakenly believed Abe was affiliated with. Yes, someone really felt they needed to kill the former Prime Minister over something like that.
Given this was a politically motivated killing, even though he was no longer a government official at the time, the assassin will likely face the death penalty when convicted. Assuming that happens, The Japanese government has a policy of not telling the condemned in advance when they will be executed. Capital Punishment is extremely rare in Japan but given the nature of Abe’s assassination, it’s not a stretch to believe it will be off the table. The condemned don’t know when they’ll be executed until the day of. On that day, a guard will go to their cell to take them to be executed.
The day before Abe’s assassination, manga, anime and trading card game fans were already rocked by the sudden and untimely death of Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi. Takahashi was found dead off the coast of Okinawa wearing diving gear after being spotted by someone passing by. He was 60 years old. His death is presumed to be accidental drowning.
In the early 90s, Takahashi’s fascination with Egyptian Mythology inspired him to create the Yu-Gi-Oh! Manga. The Manga was adapted into an Anime and more famously, inspired a real world trading card game. Not gonna lie, I spent around $1,200 on the TCG between 2002 and 2009. I wrote about it here. To save people a click, here’s one line that sums up that experience for me: Trading Card Games are a massive time and money pit. If you’re not careful, you might not be able to get out on your own.
While the Yu-Gi-Oh Franchise is nowhere near as popular s it once was 20 years ago, it currently lives on in anime, manga, the physical trading card game, the new official digital trading card game (Free to play) and video games.
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