Japan Socialist Party leader assassinated 1960

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13 October 1960: Inejiro Asanumas assassination could have far-reaching effects on Japans relations with the United States, Asia, and the rest of the world

A youth today stabbed to death Mr Inejiro Asanuma, leader of the Japanese Opposition Socialist movement, before 1,000 people at a political rally in Tokio.

The youth Futaya Yamaguchi, aged 17, was with about 100 other members of the extreme right-wing Great Japan Patriotic Society in the Hibiya Hall. Suddenly Yamaguchi ran across the stage and stabbed Mr Asanuma with a dagger a foot long. Sitting nearby was the Japanese Premier, Mr Hayato Ikeda. Eyewitnesses said that Yamaguchi was smiling as he was taken into custody. Police later said that the youth had offered no motive for the stabbing.

After the assassination 15,000 Left-wing demonstrators marched on the police headquarters in Tokio demanding the resignation of the police chief, Mr Kameyoshi Teramoto. They accused him of not providing adequate security for Mr Asanuma. About 2,000 policemen beat them back. Sixty students were injured, one seriously, and 22 policemen. More demonstrations have been called for this weekend, and one Socialist leader estimated that 100,000 will turn out on Saturday.

Mr Asanumas assassination could have far-reaching effects on Japans relations with the United States, Asia, and the rest of the world. It is almost certain that his death will have a big influence on the forthcoming elections.

Assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, 12 October 1960. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
American regrets
Mr Douglas MacArthur, the US Ambassador in Tokio, said he was deeply shocked by the assassination and in Washington the State Department declared it deplorable. The US, it said, joined with other democracy-loving nations in condemning this senseless action. The State Department issued a brief statement paying tribute to Mr Asanumas role in Japanese political affairs.

Privately, officials said that while Mr Asanuma was an avowed enemy of the United States, no responsible American wanted him removed from the political scene in this way. Now it is feared in Washington that Mr Asanumas viewpoint, as well as his person, has been martyred in a way which may strengthen the emotional appeal of his views.

Russia and China reacted swiftly today to news of the assassination. The Soviet news agency Tass said that Fascist thugs have committed a vile horror. The Chinese official New China Agency said he had been killed by a hired gangster.

The Guardian, 13 October 1960.
The assassins name, Otoya Yamaguchi, was incorrectly printed as Futaya in the original article and has been left as such to preserve the original text.

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