A high school play performed during a school event in China has caused a stir online after a short video of the presentation, in which the students reenacted the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, widely circulated on Chinese social media.
Key details: The controversial presentation occurred during an autumn sports event at the Zaozhuang No. 3 Middle School in Shandong province, reported CNA. Although the date on which the event was held was not mentioned, a local report noted that China Net video news reported the story on Oct. 10.
About the controversy: The video starts with a group of students preparing their presentation. As the student actor playing the late Japanese prime minister enters the scene, another student wearing a black jacket can be seen standing behind a line of “spectators,” seemingly imitating the 41-year-old gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, and the events that happened on July 8, 2022.
Midway through the other student’s “speech,” the student in the black jacket suddenly pushes through the line of spectators and immediately opens fire at the other actor. As the student playing Abe collapses, two other students come running into the scene carrying a banner that reads, “Two gunshots leave a cold corpse, wastewater release leaves a long aftermath.”
Its reference: The banner is reportedly a reference to Japan’s announcement in August that it would be releasing treated radioactive water to the ocean, a move that received strong opposition from China. South Korea, while seeing no problem with the scientific or technical aspects of the treatment and release, said it “does not necessarily agree with or support the plan.”
Calling for investigation: The education bureau of Zaozhuang has called for the school to investigate the event and submit a report. A staff member from the bureau reportedly told Eastday that while the students’ actions may seem inappropriate, people need to show more tolerance for their mistakes as the students are still young, China Daily reported.
Chinese social media reacts: An intense debate ensued on Chinese social media platform Weibo after the video’s circulation. Some users supported the skit, with one reportedly commenting, “What’s there to investigate? It was just a skit. No reason to elevate it into a political struggle.”
Meanwhile, another user warned of stoking hatred, writing in their comment, “Everyone in the comment section supports them. That’s pretty scary. Remembering history is not equivalent to unfiltered hatred.”
A hashtag related to the reenactment went viral on Weibo, hitting No. 2 on the platform’s trending chart before a sudden and drastic drop in engagement, a possible sign that censors may have intervened to cool down heated rhetoric, according to China Digital Times.