Kojima Productions has threatened legal action against those falsely linking Hideo Kojima, one of the most iconic game creators, to last week’s assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. The rumors were started by a racist joke on an anonymous imageboard website, 4chan, and peddled by none other than a prominent far-right French politician, who mistook the racist joke as a fact while trying to score political points with his followers.
As reported by IGN, Kojima Productions tweeted out an official statement on July 9, saying that it strongly condemns the spread of rumors and fake news that convey false information about its founder’s involvement in the assassination of Japan’s prime minister, that took place on July 8. The company has also stated that it won’t tolerate any insults made against Hideo Kojima and will consider taking legal action in some cases.
As previously stated, the reason for this statement followed a string of events that started with a racist joke on 4chan that said Hideo Kojima was the assassin of Japan’s prime minister, along with several pictures of Kojima wearing a Soviet ushanka (a hat), Joker t-shirt, and standing next to a photo of Che Guevara. The so-called joke was picked up by a French comedian in a Tweet, mocking the situation and the joke itself. However, the French comedian’s tweet was then retweeted and commented on by a far-right French politician, which only led to the spread of more fake news.
Namely, Damien Rieu, a far-right French politician associated with the Generation Indetitaire movement, took the joke as an actual fact and unknowingly began propagating false news, commenting that “the extreme left kills.” With great power comes great responsibility (a Spiderman reference that holds true in this case), and the fake news propaganda peddled by the French politician ended up on a Greek news broadcast, which showed images of Hideo Kojima while discussing Shinzo Abe’s alleged assassin.
Furthermore, despite all the telltale signs of a bad joke, images of Hideo Kojima as the alleged assassin of Japan’s prime minister even appeared in an Iranian press outlet. Damien Rieu, the previously mentioned French politician, eventually deleted his tweet and published an apology, stating that he naively took a joke for misinformation, believing that no one would joke about the assassination of a man. He acknowledged his mistake, as well as the lapse of fact-checking the information, and directed his apologies to Hideo Kojima and Metal Gear fans.
Unfortunately, the damage was already done, and the incident has caused Hideo Kojima to trend on Twitter, with more than 35,000 tweets discussing the video game developer being misidentified as the suspected shooter. Kojima Productions didn’t immediately acknowledge the situation, but it followed up with the previously mentioned statement threatening legal action against a man whose biggest public sin was disappointing the PlayStation fan base.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot while giving a speech on Friday morning when the security tackled a 41-year-old suspect Tetsuya Yamagami at the scene. The suspect later admitted to shooting the prime minister with a homemade gun, stating that he had a grudge against a specific organization.