Voices: Japan needs to stay calm in the face of Shinzo Abe’s senseless death

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Abe was assassinated by someone using a ‘homemade gun’  (AP)
Abe was assassinated by someone using a ‘homemade gun’ (AP)

Japanese people are completely shaken by the news of the brutal assassination of Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving prime minister in the history of our country, just two days before the national election day. I am one of them.

PM Abe had many political enemies for his hard conservative views. He did have some health concerns, but politically speaking, he was always considered invincible – surviving the many political scandals that plagued his career. It comes as a huge shock that a politician many saw as indestructible could not defend himself from barbaric violence.

The fact that the perpetrator apparently used a “homemade gun” is also a grave concern to many Japanese people. Japan has long been known for being one of the safest places in the world – especially when it comes to gun-related violence.

For most people in Japan, guns have always been something belonging to fictitious dramas like movies or comic books. But today, in front of the entire country, someone used a homemade gun to assassinate someone who was once the most powerful politician in the country.

And what’s worse is that the Japanese media is reporting in detail how this crude gun was constructed: what kind of pipe was used, how easy it was to access black powder, how many bullets it could hold. This torrent of information of what is effectively a “how to make a gun at home” guide worries me. I can’t help thinking it could be absorbed and replicated by copycats. It feels deeply irresponsible.

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It really saddens me that we have to accept the fact that after this terrible event, we are left feeling like we are no longer safe from gun violence in Japan. The rhetoric on social media since the shooting has felt deeply divisive and troubling. Abe’s death should be condemned in the strongest terms, no matter what your political standing is.

But we should still try and stay calm. We must not panic. We must not give in to despair. We have to try not to consume sensationalist details of the shooter, and we should condemn this brutal violence in totality, no matter our individual political views.

Japan, we need (to borrow a phrase) to keep calm and carry on. One way to show that you will never give in to terrorism and fear is to live normally. Prove that the world cannot be changed by violence. Do not prove that violence and fear can change the world. Let’s dare to live “normally”.

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