That Time a Real Ninja Carried out an Assassination on Live Television

As real as any “Ninja” in the modern era is–and don’t get us started on all the doughy suburban white dudes who cosplay as ninjas.

On this day in  1960, 17 year old Otoya Yamaguchi assassinated the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party in front of a live television audience. Yamaguchi was a member of a far right-wing Japanese nationalist group called Uyoku Dantai which wanted to restore the dignity of the Japanese Emperor and return society to its traditional roots.  The attack took place at Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall during a political debate that was to precede elections. Using a wakizashi–a traditional Japanese short sword–Yamaguchi killed the Socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma.

Roughly three weeks after the assassination, he mixed a small amount of tooth paste with water and wrote on the wall of his cell a quotation from fourteenth-century Samurai Kusunoki Masashige, noted in history as the example of loyalty to the Japanese Emperor:

“Seven lives for my country. Ten thousand years for His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!”

Yamaguchi then hanged himself in his cell with a rope made out of knotted bed sheets, tied to the light fixture. The Pulitzer Prize was awarded to photographer Yasushi Nagao for capturing the photo seconds after the assassin withdrew the blade.

Video of the event is below. Here’s the original discussion thread from our Forums.

 

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