He’s one of the most famed video game designers out there, but the man who gave the world Death Stranding and the Metal Gear Solid series was recently linked to a brutal murder.
You see, video game star Hideo Kojima was misidentified as the killer of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe by a French politician, who posted photos of the video game designer with the caption “the extreme left kills”.
But what could have led this politician to do this? Apparently the man was misled by a joke circulating on 4chan shortly after Shinzo Abe’s killing, in which people joked about how Abe’s real killer (a man named Tetsuya Yamagami) looked like Hideo Kojima, as was reported on Kotaku.
The news outlet pointed out that racism could be a factor here – the harmful trope that all Orientals look alike is still doing the rounds online, and it’s clear that racism against Asians has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020.
Also, news channels in Greece and Iran took this Internet joke for the real thing, and also misidentified Kojima as the murderer of Shinzo Abe in their news broadcasts, as seen in the image which accompanies this article. The news videos originally posted on social media has seen been taken down, but can still be watched online here (via Vice).
Of course, Kojima did not take kindly to him being linked to the murder of one of the most prominent Japanese politicians of recent times, and threatened legal action via his company Kojima Productions on Twitter.
#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
Before this, though, the far-right politician who had mistakenly linked Kojima with the Shinzo Abe assassination had issued an apology on social media, saying that “I naively took a joke for information. I never thought we could make humor about the assassination of a man but I was wrong to not check before sharing” on his twitter account (via L.A. Times).
So what to make of this? In this age of misinformation and instant communication, rumors starting in a dark corner of the Internet can spread like wildfire and be taken for facts for a while. And the fact that a world-famous person like Kojima could be the victim highlights how much of a problem this can be.