Shinzo Abe murder: Timeline of political assassinations in Japan

As Japan is not known for political violence, the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shocked and surprised the world.

But in the past, the country has had its share of political assassinations.

In 2007, Iccho Itoh, who had served as the mayor of Nagasaki -- the city that was destroyed in a nuclear attack in 1945 -- was shot dead.

In 1960, Japan's socialist party leader Inejiro Asanuma was stabbed in the abdomen by a right-wing fanatic.

Here is a timeline of political assassinations in Japan:


July 8, 2022:

Shinzo Abe (Sept. 21, 1954 – July 8, 2022)

Japanese politician, the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history, and head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was shot dead.

April 18, 2007:

Iccho Itoh (Aug. 23, 1945 – April 18, 2007)

Itoh was a Japanese politician who served as the mayor of Nagasaki from 1995 to 2007. He was fatally shot by Tetsuya Shiroo, a member of the Yakuza, on April 17, 2007, and died the following morning.

Oct. 26, 2002:

Koki Ishii (Nov. 6, 1940 – Oct. 25, 2002)

Koki, a Japanese politician of the Democratic Party of Japan, was murdered under suspicious circumstances.

Oct. 12, 1960:

Inejiro Asanuma, (Dec. 27, 1898 – Oct 12, 1960)

Leader of the Japan Socialist Party was assassinated with a wakizashi, a traditional short sword, by ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi while speaking at a televised political debate in Tokyo.

Feb. 26, 1936:

Viscount Takahashi Korekiyo (July 27, 1854 – 26 February 1936)

A Japanese politician who served as a member of the House of Peers, as prime minister of Japan from 1921 to 1922, and as the head of the Bank of Japan and Ministry of Finance.

He was assassinated in February 1936.

Takahashi's policies were credited for pulling Japan out of the Depression, but they led to soaring inflation following his assassination, as Takahashi's successors became highly reluctant to cut off funding to the government.

Feb. 26, 1936:

Viscount Saito Makoto (Oct. 27, 1858 – Feb. 26, 1936)

He was a Japanese naval officer and politician. In February 1935, he was assassinated.

Saito succeeded Inukai Tsuyoshi as prime minister following his assassination. He later returned to public service as lord keeper of the Privy Seal in February 1935 but was soon assassinated a year later on Feb. 26.

May 15, 1932:

Inukai Tsuyoshi (June 4, 1855 – May 15, 1932)

Inukai was a Japanese politician, cabinet minister, and prime minister of Japan from 1931. He was Japan's second oldest prime minister while serving, as he was 76 on the day he was murdered.

Feb. 9, 1932:

Junnosuke Inoue (May 6, 1869 – Feb. 9, 1932)

He was finance minister in the Osachi Hamaguchi cabinet until 1931.

Inoue became the administrator of Rikken Minsei-to (Constitutional Democratic Party) but was assassinated by a member of the Ketsumeidan in the League of Blood Incident.

Aug. 26, 1931:

Hamaguchi Osachi (April 1, 1870 – Aug. 26, 1931)

Japanese politician and prime minister initially survived an assassination attempt by a right-wing extremist in 1930, but died about nine months later from a bacterial infection in his unhealed wounds.

Nov. 4, 1921:

Hara Takashi (March 15, 1856 – Nov. 4, 1921)

The former prime minister was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1921.

June 21, 1901:

Hoshi Toru (May 19, 1850 – June 21, 1901) cabinet minister was first accused of corruption scandal within the Tokyo City Assembly. Although he protested his innocence, he was forced to resign. He was later found innocent due to lack of evidence, but during the middle of the trial, he was assassinated by a middle-aged man with a short sword.

Feb. 12, 1889:

Viscount Arinori Mori (Aug. 23, 1847 – Feb. 12, 1889) was a Meiji period Japanese statesman, diplomat, and founder of Japan's modern educational system. Mori was stabbed by an ultranationalist on the very day of promulgation of the Meiji Constitution in 1889 and died the next day.

May 14, 1878:

Okubo Toshimichi (Sept. 26, 1830 – May 14, 1878) was a Japanese statesman and one of the Three Great Nobles regarded as the main founders of modern Japan. In this capacity, he enacted numerous structural reforms, pacified disputes within the Meiji regime at the Osaka Conference of 1875, and suppressed several rebellions threatening the survival of the empire. He became the focus of deep animosity within Japan and was ultimately assassinated in 1878.

Oct. 24, 1876:

Yasuoka Ryōsuke (April 1825 – Oct. 24, 1876) was a feudal lord of the Tosa Domain and a samurai of the Jinshotai. He councilor, and Gunma prefectural councilor.

He was attacked by members of the Shinpuren and four people including the chief of staff and inspectors at home were assassinated. At this time, he hid in the backfield and was saved, but died three days later at Zhendai Hospital from his wounds.

Dec. 7, 1869:

Omura Masujiro, (May 30, 1824 – Dec. 7, 1869) was a Japanese military leader and theorist in the Bakumatsu period of Japan. He was the "Father" of the Imperial Japanese Army, launching a modern military force closely patterned after the French system of the day. He was attacked by eight disgruntled ex-samurai and killed.

Feb. 15, 1869:

Yokoi Shōnan (Sept. 22, 1809 – Feb. 15, 1869) was a Bakumatsu and early Meiji period scholar and political reformer in Japan, influential around the fall of the Tokugawa bakufu. His real name was Yokoi Tokiari. He was assassinated in 1869 by conservative samurai who suspected him of being a Christian, and of harboring secret republican sentiments.

Dec. 19, 1867:

Sakamoto Ryōma (Jan. 3, 1836 – 10 Dec. 1867) was a Japanese samurai and influential figure of the Bakumatsu and the establishment of the Empire of Japan in the late Edo period. He was assassinated in December 1867 with his companion Nakaoka Shintarō, shortly before the Boshin War and the Meiji Restoration.

Aug. 12, 1864:

Sakuma Shōzan (March 22, 1811 – Aug. 12, 1864) sometimes called Sakuma Zōzan, was a Japanese politician and scholar of the Edo period. He was ambushed and attacked by a small group of assassins from the Higo and Oki clans in broad daylight.

March 24, 1860:

Ii Naosuke (Nov. 29, 1815 – March 24, 1860) Japanese politician famous for signing the Harris Treaty with the US, granting access to ports for trade to American merchants and seamen, and extraterritoriality to American citizens. He was assassinated in 1860.

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