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Anti-Japanese Sentiments on Weibo after News of Shinzo Abe Getting Shot in Nara

On Weibo, some are gloating over the shooting of Shinzo Abe, who has been called the “‘chief’ anti-China politician in Japan.”

Manya Koetse

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The shocking news that Shinzo Abe was shot twice during a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday morning has become top trending on Weibo, where many commenters show little sympathy for Japan’s former Prime Minister.

In the morning of July 8, 2022, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍 晋三) was shot twice during a speech for an election campaign event in the city of Nara. According to the latest reports, the 67-year-old Abe has been rushed to hospital. Update: just before 18:00 local time, news came out that Shinzo Abe died after being shot.

The shooting incident happened around 11:30 when Abe was giving an Upper House election campaign speech in front of Yamato-Saidaiji Station of the Kintetsu Line.

Ex-Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe (舛添要一), who was also at the event in Nara, tweeted that the former President was suffering “cardiopulmonary arrest” (心肺停止状態), meaning he is showing no vital signs.

According to the Asahi newspaper, a 41-year-old man by the name of Tetsuya Yamagami has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and the weapon was seized.

On Chinese social media, the incident immediately became a trending news topic and various images were shared showing the alleged suspect. Other photos showed the former Prime Minister laying on the ground surrounded by medical staff. The hashtag “Abe Shows No Vital Signs” (#安倍已无生命体征#) received over a billion views on Friday.

One Weibo news post about the shooting by CCTV received over 1,6 million likes. The top comment said: “Exam candidates, remember this for extra points: July 7 is the day of the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident that started China’s War of Resistance against Japan; July 8 the day when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed.” The comment received nearly 100,000 likes.

Influential media blogger Zhang Xiaolei (@张晓磊) posted: “Walking alone down a dark alley*, this man will go down in the history of Japan,” referring to the gunman.

Some of the comments called the shooter a ‘hero’, saying he would no just also go into Japanese history, but also would be remembered in Chinese history books. The comment that “this is a historical day” is a recurring one on Weibo today.

Former Prime Minister Abe was President of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and he was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history from 2006 to 2007 and then again from 2012 to 2020. He retired as Prime Minister in 2020 due to health reasons.

 

An old man gets shot and falls to the ground yet you are gloating over it. Where is the morality? Where is your bottom line?

 

In China, Abe has never been popular. After his 2020 retirement, he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine war memorial just days after stepping down. An 2021 editorial in the Chinese state media outlet Global Times called the former Prime Minister the “chief anti-China politician in Japan.” In a 2021 Security Dialogue on Taiwan-US-Japan, Abe said that “Taiwan must be a leader among democracies.” Some weeks earlier, he had also stated that “a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency,” urging China not to provoke its neighbors or seek territorial expansion.

In 2017, a video of a Japanese kindergarten recital saying that the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands belong to Japan and that China should not “spread lies” about Japan went viral and sparked controversy on Chinese social media. That incident also put Shinzo Abe in a bad light as his wife previously visited the school, and he had reportedly once said that the ideology of the school’s chairman was similar to his.

Anti-Japanese sentiments often surface on Chinese social media, where the history of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) is still actively remembered (read more here).

“Shinzo Abe needs to let go of his hatred, excuse the gunman, and erase this part from history,” another popular Weibo comment said, sarcastically referring to previous Japanese history textbook controversies regarding the silencing of Japan’s war crimes.

But there are also those who are condemning those who apparently delight in the fact that the former Prime Minister was shot. One popular Weibo comment criticized these Weibo users, writing: “An old man gets shot and falls to the ground yet you are gloating over it. Where is the morality? Where is your bottom line?”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) commented on the attack on Shinzo Abe during a regular press briefing on July 8, expressing shock and concern, adding: “We hope that former Prime minister Abe will be out of danger and recover soon.”

Some could not resist making a sarcasting comment in the post reply section, writing: “There is still the danger that he might live?”

Despite all the reactions expressing a negative stance toward Abe and Japan, some Weibo users are posting a candle emoticon for the former Prime Minister, writing: “Sending prayers for Shinzo Abe.”

Update: On Friday late afternoon, local media reported that Shinzo Abe died after the attack. Soon after, before 18:00 CST, the hashtag “Shinzo Abe Passed Away” (#安倍晋三身亡#) became the number one topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with the hashtag page receiving over 280 million views within thirty minutes.

Also read: Chinese Reporter Cries during Live Broadcast on Shinzo Abe Attack

To get more insights on Shinzo Abe, we can recommend The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan by Tobias Harris (2020).

By Manya Koetse

* “孤身走暗巷”, “walking alone in a dark alley”, comes from a song titled “Lonely Warrior” (孤勇者) by Eason Chen.
 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Media

No Hashtags for Mahsa Amini on Chinese Social Media

“Why is that every time Mahsa Amini is mentioned, it somehow gets linked to America?”

Manya Koetse

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While the death of Mahsa Amini and the unrest in Iran is a major news story worldwide, the incident and its aftermath received relatively little attention in Chinese media, where the narrative is more focused on how Western responses to the issue are intensifying anti-American sentiments within Iran.

Her name in Chinese is written as 玛莎·阿米尼, Mǎshā Āmǐní. Mahsa Amini is the young Iranian woman whose death made international headlines this month and triggered social unrest and fierce protests across Iran for the past ten days, killing at least 41 people.

The 22-year-old Amini was arrested by morality police in Tehran on 16 September for allegedly not wearing her hijab according to the mandatory dress code for women while she was visiting the city together with her family. According to eyewitness accounts, Amini was severely beaten by officers before she collapsed and was taken to the hospital where she died three days later.

The protests following Amani’s death were visible in the streets, but also on social media where Iranian women posted videos of themselves cutting off their hair as a sign of mourning and protest, asking others to help raise awareness on Amini’s death and violence against women amid internet shutdowns in the country.

There were also protests outside of Iran in other places across the world. In London, protesters clashed with police officers during a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy on Monday.

On Chinese social media platform Weibo, Chinese news site The Observer (观察者网) reported Amini’s death and the ensuing protests on September 22, but the hashtag selected to highlight the post did not focus on Amini.

Instead, it emphasized the reaction of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, which accused the United States and other Western countries of using the unrest as an opportunity to interfere in Iran’s internal affairs (hashtag: “Iran Denounces the US and other Western Countries #伊朗谴责美西方#).

The hashtag decision is noteworthy and also telling of how the developments in Iran have been reported by Chinese (online) media sources, which evade the topic of anti-government protests and instead focus on pro-regime marches and anti-American sentiments.

On China’s Tiktok, Douyin, as well as on Weibo, the Chinese media outlet iFeng News posted a video showing Iranian pro-government, anti-American protests on September 25, featuring interviews with veiled women speaking out in support of their country and showing “down with America” slogans and people burning the American flag.

In the comment sections, however, people were critical. One of the most popular comments said: “It must have been difficult organizing all these people.” Another person wrote: “Ah now I am starting to understand that it must have been Americans who beat the girl to death for not properly wearing her hijab.”

But there were also Chinese netizens who said that Iran was seeing a “color revolution” (颜色革命) initiated by the West, suggesting that foreign forces, mainly the U.S., are trying to get local people to cause unrest through riots or demonstrations to undermine the stability of the government.

China Daily also published a video on Douyin in which they featured Iranian political analyst Foad Izadi who said that the demonstrators in Iran could be divided into two groups: one group cared about “a young woman losing her life,” but a second group are people “linked to terrorist organisations based outside Iran.”

Chinese media commentator Zhao Lingmin (赵灵敏) posted a video in which she spoke about the situation in Iran and provided more background information on the history of the country, during which she noted how one Iranian official had supposedly said that “the only two civilizations in Asia worth mentioning are Iran and China.”

Zhao explained how Iran officially became the Islamic Republic in April of 1979 as 98.2% of the Iranian voters voted for the establishment of the republic system in a national referendum.

Videos using the Douyin hashtag “Iran’s Amini” (#伊朗阿米尼) were seemingly taken offline while various images included in Weibo posts about Mahsa Amini and the unrest in Iran were also censored.

“It’s good that we can follow the situation here [on this account], because it’s been removed at others,” one commenter said in response to one post about the many protests following the young woman’s death.

Searches for Amini’s name came up with zero results on the website of Chinese state media outlets CCTV and Xinhua, where the last article about Iran was about how Iranian people think “America can’t be trusted.”

The official Weibo account of the Iranian Embassy in China did post a statement about Amini on September 23, writing that Iranian authorities have ordered an investigation into her tragic death and that the protection of human rights is an intrinsic value to Iran, “unlike those who use ‘human rights’ as a tool to suppress others.” “America must end its economic terrorism instead of shedding crocodile tears,” the last line said. That post received over 11,000 likes.

“Why is that everytime the Mahsa incident is mentioned, it somehow gets linked to America?!” one popular comment said, with another person also responding: “Sure enough, the U.S. gets blamed for everything.”

“So it was the Americans who killed her?” some Chinese netizens sarcastically wrote in response to the post by The Observer, which also mentioned the U.S. in their report of Mahsa’s death.

“I don’t know the exact circumstances, but I support the right of women not to wear a veil,” others said. “Men and women are equal, women should have the freedom to wear what they want and have education and get a job and have some fun,” another Weibo commenter wrote.

One Zhejiang-based Weibo user wrote: “The courage of people marching in the streets for freedom is moving. I wish that women will no longer have their freedom restricted through a hijab. What will the 21st century look like? The answer is still blowing in the wind.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Media

News of Pelosi Bringing Son on Taiwan Trip Goes Trending on Weibo

News of ‘Little Paul’ quietly joining Pelosi to Taiwan received over 380 million views on Weibo on Friday.

Manya Koetse

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Perhaps one would not expect Chinese state tabloid Global Times to care about American taxpayers’ money being spent responsibly, but in today’s trending headline on Weibo, they suggest they do:

As American media have discovered, Pelosi’s son Paul Pelosi Jr., who is not an official nor an adviser to her, has followed Pelosi around Asia at the expense of the American taxpayer,” Global Times wrote.

The topic “Pelosi Secretly Brought her Son to Visit Taiwan” (#佩洛西窜台偷偷带儿子#) garnered over 380 million views on Weibo on Friday.

Earlier this week, various American media outlets, including The New York Post, reported that the 53-year-old Pelosi Jr. ​traveled together with Nancy Pelosi during her Asia trip, but his name was not included in the official list of officials on the trip released by the speaker’s office.

The Chinese-language Global Times report on this issue is largely based on America’s Fox News host Jesse Watters reacting to Nancy Pelosi bringing her son on the Asia trip in his ‘Primetime’ show, with many of his words being directly translated in the Chinese news report: “He is not an elected official, he is not an advisor Nancy, he doesn’t even live in Washington, but he was greeted as royalty by the President of Taiwan.”

Jesse Watters’ suggested that Pelosi Jr. was involved in “shady” business, being on the payroll of two lithium mining companies and then visiting Taiwan, a world leader in lithium battery production. “Prince Pelosi will go wherever the money is,” Watters said, a sentiment that was reiterated by Global Times.

During a press conference, Pelosi confirmed that her son had joined her on the trip, saying: “His role was to be my escort. Usually, we – we invited spouses. Not all could come. But I had him come. And I was very proud that he was there. And I’m thrilled – and it was nice for me.”

When Pelosi was asked if her son had any business dealings while they were in Asia, she replied: “No, he did not. Of course, he did not.”

In response to Pelosi’s highly controversial visit to Taiwan, the Chinese government took sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family.

According to Global Times, this might also affect Paul Pelosi Jr., who allegedly sought business opportunities in China via two companies, International Media Acquisition Corp and Global Tech Industries Group.

Many netizens are also ridiculing ‘Little Paulie’ (小保罗), especially because, based on the reports, they had somehow expected Pelosi’s son to be a child or young man instead of a 52-year-old. Part of the confusion stems from the Chinese translation for “Jr.”, xiǎo (小), which also means “little.”

“He’s 52! I though we were talking about a little kid,” some wrote, with others calling him a ‘mama’s boy.’

“That entire family will just do anything for money,” others wrote.

More than a week after Pelosi’s visit, news of ‘Little Paul’ joining her on the controversial trip just reinforces existing narratives on Chinese social media, led by official media, that Pelosi’s Taipei decision was more about self-interest than serving her country – and its taxpayers.

By Manya Koetse

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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