Japanese authorities are working to understand how and why a gunman assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe using a homemade firearm on July 8.
Police say Tetsuya Yamagami, the 41-year-old shooter, denied having a political motive and told investigators he wanted to kill Abe because he thought Abe was affiliated with an organization he didn’t like. not, according to reports from the Guardian and other media.
Police did not identify the organization, but Japanese media reported it was a religious group to which the shooter’s mother gave money before going bankrupt. The leader of the Japanese branch of the Unification Church, whose members are colloquially known as “Moonies” and are considered by some experts to act like a cult, said Yamagami’s mother was a member.
The investigation into Abe’s murder has been ongoing since July 11. But amid the lack of information, misinformation about what happened is spreading online.
A conspiratorial Instagram post has baselessly suggested that Abe was killed for avoiding COVID-19 vaccines and adopting the drug ivermectin while leading Japan’s response to the pandemic.
“The slain Japanese prime minister did not follow orders (from the World Economic Forum),” the July 10 message said. “Didn’t impose vaccines, returned 1.6 million doses and gave citizens ivermectin. Does that make sense now?”
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The message is unsubstantiated and factually misleading; there is no evidence that Abe was killed during his response to COVID-19, and that response did not involve the promotion of ivermectin over vaccines.
The idea that Japan under Abe had abandoned its vaccine rollout and started treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin gained traction in October 2021 thanks to a fake blog post by the radio host extreme right Hal Turner, who has a habit of pushing conspiracy theories.
COVID-19 vaccination in Japan
The Japanese government does not mandate vaccination against COVID-19.
Japan recalled in September 2021 approximately 1.63 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines after human error in production led to contamination.
But Japan never stopped all vaccination efforts. The country has administered more than 280 million doses of the vaccine as of July 11, according to Our World in Data and Reuters. About 81% of the country has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, is not among the drugs approved for COVID-19 by the Japanese government. (US federal health agencies also do not approve ivermectin for treating or preventing COVID-19.)
An Instagram post claimed that Abe was murdered for “failing to impose vaccines, return 1.6 million doses and give citizens ivermectin”.
There is no evidence that Abe was killed for this reason; the investigation into his killing continues, but police say the shooter denied a political motive, according to reports.
The Instagram post relied on previously refuted claims that Japan had abandoned its vaccination efforts to focus on prescribing ivermectin for COVID-19. Although the country recalled some contaminated vaccines from Moderna, it continued to vaccinate and did not authorize the use of ivermectin.
We rate this post False.