Sunshine Recorder


World Press Photo of the Year (1960): October 12th, 1960. It’s election season in Japan. Three thousand people cram Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall to hear socialist party chairman Inejiro Asanuma debate the incumbent Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda. Ikeda was inspired by the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and decided to hold his own with his opponents. Asanuma critcized the government for its mutual defense treaty with the United States and right-wing students in the audience began to heckle and throw pieces of paper at the burly chairman. Police rushed in, and one 17-year-old right wing student, Otoya Yamaguchi ran out of the police cordon carrying a samurai sword. Before anyone could stop him, he plunged his sword into Asanuma, pulled it out and speared Asanuma again — through the heart. Less than three weeks after the assassination, while being held in a juvenile detention facility, Yamaguchi used his bedsheet to hang himself. He lived his samurai tradition to the end: his suicide was owabi—or an apology to those inconvenienced by his assassination.

World Press Photo of the Year (1960): October 12th, 1960. It’s election season in Japan. Three thousand people cram Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall to hear socialist party chairman Inejiro Asanuma debate the incumbent Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda. Ikeda was inspired by the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and decided to hold his own with his opponents. Asanuma critcized the government for its mutual defense treaty with the United States and right-wing students in the audience began to heckle and throw pieces of paper at the burly chairman. Police rushed in, and one 17-year-old right wing student, Otoya Yamaguchi ran out of the police cordon carrying a samurai sword. Before anyone could stop him, he plunged his sword into Asanuma, pulled it out and speared Asanuma again — through the heart. Less than three weeks after the assassination, while being held in a juvenile detention facility, Yamaguchi used his bedsheet to hang himself. He lived his samurai tradition to the end: his suicide was owabi—or an apology to those inconvenienced by his assassination.

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