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Otoya Yamaguchi

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Otoya Yamaguchi
Death of Inejiro Asanuma.jpg
A photograph taken by Yasushi Nagao immediately after Otoya Yamaguchi withdrew his Japanese sword (yoroidōshi) from Inejiro Asanuma.
Native name
山口 二矢
Born(1943-02-22)February 22, 1943
DiedNovember 2, 1960(1960-11-02) (aged 17)
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging
Resting placeAoyama Cemetery, Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo
Known forAssassination of Inejiro Asanuma

Otoya Yamaguchi (山口 二矢, Yamaguchi Otoya, February 22, 1943 – November 2, 1960) was a Japanese ultranationalist who assassinated Inejiro Asanuma, head of the Japan Socialist Party. Yamaguchi was a member of a right-wing uyoku dantai group, and assassinated Asanuma with a yoroi-dōshi on October 12, 1960, at Tokyo's Hibiya Hall during a political debate in advance of parliamentary elections.[1]


Less than three weeks after the assassination, while being held in a juvenile detention facility, Yamaguchi mixed a small amount of toothpaste with water and wrote on his cell wall, "Seven lives for my country. Long live His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!" Yamaguchi then knotted strips of his bedsheet into a makeshift rope and used it to hang himself from a light fixture.[2] The phrase "seven lives for my country" was a reference to the last words of 14th-century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.[3]

Right-wing groups celebrated Yamaguchi as a martyr; they gave a burial coat, kimono, and belt to his parents and performed a memorial service for him.[4] His ashes were interred in Aoyama Cemetery.[5]


Yasushi Nagao with his Pulitzer Prize winning photo. (1961)

A photograph taken by Yasushi Nagao immediately after Yamaguchi withdrew his sword from Asanuma won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize,[6] and the 1960 World Press Photo award. Footage of the incident was also captured.[7]

Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburō Ōe based his 1961 novellas Seventeen and The Death of a Political Youth on Yamaguchi.[8]

In October 2010, right-wing groups celebrated the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Hibiya Park.[4]

On October 12, 2018, right-wing provocateur Gavin McInnes reenacted the murder as part of a skit to entertain members of the Proud Boys and the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City.[9][10] After the performance, McInnes left the club holding the plastic samurai sword used in the reenactment.[10] The Proud Boys, founded by McInnes, are considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[11]


  1. ^ "山口 二矢" [Otoya Yamaguchi]. Nihon Jinmei Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ "JAPAN: Assassin's Apologies". TIME Magazine. Time Inc. November 14, 1960. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  3. ^ "Using a traditional blade, 17-year-old Yamaguchi assassinates politician Asanuma in Tokyo, 1960". Rare Historical Photos. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b Newton, Michael (17 April 2014). "Inejiro Asanuma (1898–1960)". Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia. 2. ABC-CLIO. pp. 234–235. ISBN 978-1-61069-286-1.
  5. ^ "四月廿九日 山口二矢及び筆保泰禎兩氏之墓參 於港區南青山「梅窓院」". Douketusya (in Japanese). 3 May 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  6. ^ Zelizer, Barbie (1 December 2010). About to Die:How News Images Move the Public. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 183–4. ISBN 0199752133. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  7. ^ Inejiro Asanuma Assassination Footage (1960) (Digital video). (published May 18, 2006). October 12, 1960. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  8. ^ Weston, Mark (1999). Giants of Japan: The Lives of Japan’s Most Influential Men and Women. New York: Kodansha International. p. 295. ISBN 1-568362862.
  9. ^ "State GOP distances itself from McInnes, following vandalism". Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b Richardson, Davis (15 October 2018), "How Gavin McInnes' Proud Boys and Antifa Turned the Upper East Side Into Hell", Observer, New York, retrieved 29 October 2018
  11. ^ "Proud Boys". Retrieved 17 October 2018.

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