Hideo Kojima, the noted Japanese video-game developer has become the victim of an Internet hoax linking him to last week’s assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe. Kojima is best known as the creator of the Metal Gear and the Death Stranding franchises.
Pictures posted on the 4chan messaging website falsely described Kojima as a “left-wing extremist,” which Kojima immediately condemned for “the spread of fake news and rumors that convey false information.” His studio threatened possible legal action.
The phony pictures, including images of Kojima wearing a Russian military hat and posing with Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, were then shared by Damien Rieu, a French right-wing politician and picked up by Greek and Iranian news outlets, which deleted the posts once their inaccuracy had been verified.
In an attempt to link leftists with political violence and unrest, Rieu’s reposting had been accompanied by the text “The Far Left Kills.” Rieu has since deleted his posting and apologized, telling Kojima that he “naively took a joke for information” and that he “was wrong not to check before sharing.” Rieu’s reshared images had been part of a so-called “satirical” posting originally circulated by French comedian Georges Jordito, alleging that the assassin had been soccer player Keisuke Honda.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, has since been identified by Japanese law-enforcement authorities as Abe’s assassin at a campaign rally in Nara last Friday. He is believed to have targeted Abe for his alleged connections with a yet-unnamed organization. The assassination sent shock waves through Japan, where gun violence is extremely rare due to strict regulations over the possession of firearms.
Kojima had been the subject of another hoax just weeks ago. In the wake of the overturn of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court, postings went viral on Japanese social media accusing the game developer of “aborting and mummifying a baby.”