Fake Shinzo Abe Tweet Dredges Up Baseless Clinton Conspiracy Theory

Quick Take

Internet trolls have used the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a fake tweet purportedly from Abe, to promote a long-standing, unfounded conspiracy theory that the Clintons are responsible for the deaths of multiple people. A suspect reportedly with a personal grudge has been arrested for the assassination.


Full Story

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated on July 8, and almost immediately, misinformation about who was responsible started circulating on social media in Japan and elsewhere.

Now a false claim suggesting that Hillary Clinton was behind the killing is making the rounds on social media in the U.S.

In reality, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested and reportedly admitted to police that he had targeted Abe because he believed the former prime minister had helped to promote an organization against which he held a personal grudge.

But social media accounts are sharing a fake tweet purportedly from Abe the day before he died that says, “I have information that will lead to the arrest of Hillary Clinton.”

Some conservative outlets have published suggestive headlines based on the fabricated tweet.

For example, the Western Journal used this headline: “Fact Check: Did Japan’s Ex-PM Incriminate Hillary Clinton 1 Day Before Being Assassinated?” Although the full article explained that the tweet was fake, the Western Journal’s Instagram post didn’t explain that. Some of those who commented on the post said, “I wouldn’t doubt it,” “Guns don’t kill people the Clintons do!!!” and “The Clinton body count!!!! We all know!!!”

The last comment is a reference to the well-worn conspiracy theory that former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, have killed many people in order to cover up alleged crimes. In this case, as in the others, there’s nothing to the claim.

The last tweet from Abe’s Twitter account promoted another Japanese politician, and there’s no indication that he had tweeted anything recently about Clinton. Actually, the Japanese text included in the fake tweet doesn’t say anything about Clinton either, as a story from the Associated Press pointed out.

The fake tweet has been treated as a joke in many online communities and appears to have spawned a second fake tweet, one purported to be from Clinton herself, saying, in part, “I did not have murderous intentions toward that Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. I never told anybody to kill him. Not a single time. Never.”

But for social media users not versed in political meme culture, it can appear that such tweets are real. For example, Reuters noted in a story about the fake Abe tweet that some Twitter users expressed confusion, saying things such as, “Is this real? I don’t see it on his Twitter” and “Did Shinzo Abe tweet this???

So, what might be a joke to some can be taken in earnest by others. In any case, Abe didn’t implicate Clinton in his death by tweeting about her beforehand.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Tan, Yvette and Matt Murphy. “Shinzo Abe: Japan ex-leader assassinated while giving speech.” BBC. 8 Jul 2022.

Nammo, Mei. “Alarm raised over online disinformation about ex-PM Abe’s assassin.” The Mainichi. 9 Jul 2022.

Sardarizadeh, Shayan. “Shinzo Abe killing: Hideo Kojima threatens to sue over false posts.” BBC. 11 Jul 2022.

Chandler, Clay. “Japan’s Unification Church confirms mother of alleged Abe assassin was a member, raising questions about possible motivation.” Fortune. 11 Jul 2022.

Tulp, Sophia. “Fabricated tweet circulates after Shinzo Abe assassination.” AP. 8 Jul 2022.

Clinton Body Bags.” Snopes. 24 Jan 1998.

Abe, Shinzo (@AbeShinzo). Twitter account. Accessed 13 Jul 2022.

Fact Check-Hillary Clinton’s denial of role in former Japanese PM killing is fabricated.” Reuters. 12 Jul 2022.

Klein, Ofra. “The evolution of political internet memes.” Kennedy School Review. 11 Mar 2019.

Nieubuurt, Joshua. “Internet Memes: Leaflet Propaganda of the Digital Age.” Frontiers in Communication. 15 Jan 2021.

Fact Check-Image of a tweet by Shinzo Abe about Hillary Clinton is fabricated.” Reuters. 9 Jul 2022.

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