In a bizarre turn of events, development studio Kojima Productions has threatened to sue people making suggestions online that their founder Hideo Kojima was involved in the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was shot dead on Friday. Online commenters making some very bad-taste jokes about the identity of the shooter led to a Greek media outlet and French politician misidentifying him as Kojima.
The police had the shooter in custody already. You’d think that would be where it ended. Man shoots notable politician, is arrested at scene, charged, and the law takes its course. Not when the Internet gets involved, it would seem. Comments on 4chan suggesting a resemblance between Yamagami and Kojima made their way to Twitter. These eventually led to the Greek TV station ANT1 reporting on Abe’s killing using a photograph of the legendary Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding developer in place of Yamagami (thanks Kotaku).
#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. pic.twitter.com/fDi0FR9kB0
— KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS (Eng) (@KojiPro2015_EN) July 9, 2022
Far-right French politician Damien Rieu had tweeted photos of Kojima with the phrase “L’extrême-gauche tue.” Translated to English, that’s “The extreme-left kills.” One of those photos appears to have been picked up and broadcast by the Greek TV station. Rieu later deleted his tweet, but people managed to catch it before it disappeared. Another of the photos shared by Rieu showed Kojima standing next to a photo of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, a political interest the Greek station reported among the motivations for Abe’s killing.
It remains to be seen whether Kojima Productions feels the need to pursue anyone over libel for this weird, though depressingly very 2022, situation. Kojima has yet to comment himself, but shared his company’s tweet the day following Abe’s murder.