Popular video game creator Hideo Kojima was falsely identified by a far-right French politician and a Greek news channel as former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s killer, Tetsuya Yamagami.
In a now deleted tweet that was made on July 8, 2022, Damien Rieu, a far-right French politician, uploaded photos of Kojima with a comment which claimed that the extreme-left was responsible for the assassination of the former Japanese Prime Minister.
“The extreme left kills,” Rieu wrote.
While the internet’s jokes about Abe’s killer looking similar to Kojima reached Twitter, Rieu jumped on the bandwagon without checking the veracity of the claims and oblivious to the fact that it was a joke.
The politician, however, deleted his tweet after realizing his mistake and issued an apology.
“I naively took a joke for information. I didn’t think someone would make a joke about someone being murdered, but it was my fault for not fact-checking before sharing. My apologies to #HideoKojima and to #MetalGear,” he wrote.
But the damage was done before realization dawned on Rieu, as a Greek news channel, ANT1 TV Greece, used his tweet as source for their news broadcast.
In the photos that Rieu uploaded, Kojima is seen next to, or with Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevera’s pictures. The news channel used this to connect Abe’s killer to Che Guevera.
A translation provided to Kotaku by a fan about the news read;
“Tetsuya has confessed to his actions to the police, admitting that he wanted Abe dead because he was disappointed and upset with him. The police have learned that he [the culprit] had served in the Navy Special Forces and taught a unit in Medical School on Physiotherapy for dementia patients. He was passionate about Che Guevara.”
The news broadcast, too, has now been removed.
Rieu’s blunder was also caught on by the internet, who made sure to point it out and question his claims.
On Saturday, Kojima’s studio, Kojima Productions, issued a statement on Twitter saying that they would consider legal action against the perpetrators of the fake news.
“#KojimaProductions strongly condemns the spread of fake news and rumors that convey false information. We do not tolerate such libel and will consider taking legal action in some cases,” the studio said.
Kojima, who is known for his role in creating the Metal Gear series, has not responded to the news about being misidentified as Abe’s killer.
Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect believed to have assassinated Abe, is detained by the police on the charge of murder. Yamagami told investigators that he held a grudge against the Unification Church over his mother’s bankruptcy and shot Abe out of a belief that he was close to the group. He accused Abe of spreading the church’s influence in Japan.
There are no reports of Yamagami being a fan of, or being influenced by Che Guevera.
Former Prime Minsiter Shinzo Abe was assassinated on July 8, 2022, while delivering a campaign speech at a political event outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Abe is the longest serving Prime Minister in Japanese history.