Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe died in hospital after he was shot at a political campaign event on July 8. World leaders and politicians offered condolences to Japan over the loss. Amid historical, complicated, and fraught relationships between China and Japan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said his country was shocked by the attack. But, he added, “this unexpected incident should not be associated with Sino-Japanese relations.” However, Chinese social media and businesses do not necessarily agree with the voice of the regime.

There are posts on Chinese social media that “celebrate” Abe’s death with many strange comments such as “I’m so happy,” “Great news,” and “Party time.” Chinese businesses also promote the event by offering big discounts to their customers. They hang red banners in front of their stores saying,

“Celebrate Abe’s return to the West and celebrate with the whole world. Everything is buy one get one free.”

“Mourning for Abe Go away! Our shop has a three-day weekend carnival, 40% off.” 

“Warmly celebrate the death of Shinzo Abe, a family member of war criminals, and 12% off all purchases in our store, hurry up and celebrate!” 

“To celebrate the collapse of ‘Abe Shinzo’, buy a car today and get cycling gloves.’”

Those businesses reacted instantly to the news and saw the event as an opportunity to boost sales. However, some people wondered why they made banners so quickly and questioned the true identity of the murderer. The netizen “Hai Peilin” tweeted: “The country celebrates Abe’s death in various ways, especially those who hang banners. It takes a day to print it.” 

According to the Voice of America report, many Chinese netizens feel regret and sorrow for the death of Shinzo Abe and share photos of him. Among them, Shinzo Abe knelt to talk to the victims, took the lead in donating money during his tenure, and donated money to the people in the epidemic area in Wuhan. The photos of donated materials also have pictures of his life as a civilian after he left office. 

Some observers said, “The reason why these photos moved the Chinese people is because Abe showed them what they couldn’t see in Chinese leaders. In the event that Wuhan was closed, Shanghai was closed, and severe floods hit Zhengzhou, people couldn’t see the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping.”

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