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#trending: Students in China spark controversy with re-enactment of former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s assassination

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.

Other users agreed that children should not be used as “political tools”.

A few people, however, argued that the students were merely exercising “freedom of speech”.

Anti-Japan sentiment has grown in China following Japan’s announcement in late August that it will release more than one million metric tonnes of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima power plant into the sea. 

Japanese institutions have since reported a surge of harassment, with nuisance phone calls originating from China and calls on the internet to boycott Japanese products.

On Aug 24, which is the day the water discharge began, a rock was thrown into the grounds of a Japanese school in Qingdao while eggs were hurled at another Japanese school in Suzhou the next day. Similarly, a brick was reportedly thrown at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Aug 29.

Abe was killed on July 8 last year while attending a political campaign event in the city of Nara. He was allegedly shot twice with a homemade gun while giving a speech on the street.

Security personnel at the location subdued the suspected gunman, identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami.

Yamagami, who harboured resentment towards the Unification Church for what he perceived as causing financial distress to his family, is said to have assaulted Abe under the belief that the former leader had affiliations with the religious organisation.

Yamagami is currently being detained at the Osaka Detention Center after investigations concluded in March, the Japan Times reported.

The schedule for the first trial hearing has not been confirmed, but one of Yamagami’s defence attorneys indicated that it is expected to take place at some point in the coming year.

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