Hideo Kojima studio threatens legal action over false link to Shinzo Abe killing

Kojima Productions released a statement on Twitter July 9, condemning misinformation falsely linking game designer Hideo Kojima to the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

On July 8, Abe was shot while speaking at a political rally in Nara and pronounced dead later that day. Authorities detained the apparent gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, at the scene. Yamagami, a 41-year-old man and former member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, confessed to the assassination but claimed it was not politically motivated.

Shortly after the assassination, trolls on 4chan posted a series of racist jokes “identifying” the shooter using photos of Kojima, the legendary 58-year-old game designer of “Metal Gear Solid” and “Death Stranding” fame, as reported by Kotaku. French comedian Georges Jordito reposted the falsehood on Twitter. He eventually deleted his posts, but not before they were retweeted by far-right French politician Damien Rieu. Rieu then made another tweet using pictures of Kojima accompanied by a phrase translating to “the far-left kills.” Rieu eventually deleted the tweet and issued an apology.

The misinformation eventually led to Greek news station ANT1 and Iranian outlet Mashregh News posting stories about Abe’s assassination with photos of Kojima, as reported by Vice.

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Kojima Productions, the designer’s studio, shared a statement on Twitter referring to the “fake news and rumors that convey false information” as libelous, and said the company “will consider taking legal action in some cases.”

Kojima, who tweets frequently, has not made a personal statement about the matter, opting just to reshare the official Kojima Productions tweet.

This isn’t the first time that Kojima has been embroiled in a conspiracy theory. In April 2021, Dutch game studio Blue Box released a reveal trailer for its upcoming horror game “Abandoned,” which some viewers interpreted as a clandestine Silent Hill or Kojima Productions project. Blue Box released a statement clarifying that it had no links to Hideo Kojima shortly after the buzz. In October 2021, Blue Box tweeted that its employees had received death threats as a result of the ambiguity.

Kojima’s work often explores the potential dangers of mass communication. “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty,” originally released in 2001 and now considered one of the greatest video games of all time, was an especially prescient title that prophesied a world filled with fake news, digital echo chambers and even memes before we even had a language for such things.

Kojima’s latest title, 2019′s “Death Stranding,” is about a courier traveling across a fractured, post-apocalyptic United States and linking disparate cities into a single network. It’s a game about the dangers of isolationism and the importance of building bridges — both figurative and literal. “Death Stranding” has been hailed as a visionary game that resonated deeply with players because of its release within a month of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.