CHINA — A group of middle school students in China have caused a stir online after re-enacting the assassination of Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe in a performance at a school event.
Videos of the re-enactment were circulated widely on social media, drawing mixed reactions from netizens in China and abroad.
In the clip, a student playing the role of Abe enters the scene wearing a mask bearing the late Japanese leader’s face.
As the student pretends to deliver a speech, another student dressed in a black jacket appears behind a line of spectators, seemingly imitating the gunman and the events that unfolded before the attack that occurred on July 8 last year.
A few moments later, the student in the black jacket abruptly pushes through the crowd of onlookers and starts shooting at the other actor.
As the student playing Abe collapses after two gunshots, other students rush into the scene with a banner that read: “Two gunshots leave a cold corpse. Waste water release leaves a long aftermath”.
The message on the banner reportedly alludes to Japan’s decision to release treated radioactive water from its crippled Fukushima power plant into the sea, a move that was denounced by China. The country has since imposed a ban on seafood products from Japan.
The controversial play was reportedly performed during an autumn sports event last Tuesday (Oct 10) at the Zaozhuang No. 3 Middle School in the eastern province of Shandong.
Following the video’s release, the Education Bureau of Zaozhuang has issued a request for the school to conduct an inquiry into the incident and provide a detailed report.
The performance also drew a wave of reaction on social media, with some online users in China expressing approval for the skit.
One Weibo user commented: “What’s there to investigate? It was just a skit. No reason to elevate it into a political struggle.”
Others said that the performance had “moved” them and was part of “patriotic education”, Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post reported.
However, a handful of Chinese netizens did not condone what they deemed to be an “anti-Japanese” performance.
A person wrote: “Everyone in the comment section supports them. That’s pretty scary. Remembering history is not equivalent to unfiltered hatred.”
Outside of China, a majority of online users criticised the skit as being “disgusting” and “disrespectful”.
A YouTube user remarked: “Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Shame on the students for pulling off that demonstration, the school that allowed it to happen, and condolences to his (Abe’s) family. Even to this day, it is still unfortunate that he had to die in a brutal manner.”
One user wrote: “Mocking a death is not right, no matter what messages you try to convey.”
Another person said: “I don’t care what country it is or what person they are referring to. I find it totally insane to glorify anyone’s death. Especially using children to do it.”