NPR forced to delete tweet calling Shinzo Abe a ‘divisive arch-conservative’ after his assassination

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America’s public radio broadcaster NPR was forced to delete a tweet calling Shinzo Abe “a divisive arch-conservative” amid backlash on social media.

NPR posted its tweet just house after the former Japanese prime minister was assassinated in the city of Nara.

Although the words were taken from Associated Press report on the assassination of Abe, many commentators disagreed with the characterisation.

The now-deleted tweet read: “Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, a divisive arch-conservative and one of his nation’s most powerful and influential figures, has died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan, hospital officials said”.

Some Twitter users said the tweet and an introductory paragraph to an NPR news article suggested the Japanese politician had been responsible for his own death in some way.

“It wasn't just the tweet that was smearing Shinzo Abe that NPR put out,” argued journalist Curtis Houck in a tweet. “The lead paragraph of the article about his assassination is nearly identical, suggesting he had it coming.”

Others said the characterisation of Abe, who angered the Japanese left by increasing the nation’s defence spending as prime minister and is well known for his policy of “Abenomics” to boost the country’s economy, were politically ill-judged.

“To the far left the middle always looks like the far right so this NPR tweet is on brand,” argued Hank Campbell. “But should all Americans be paying taxes so NPR can make everything about their hatred? Including the assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister?”

Steven Yates, a foreign policy expert, wrote: “Absolutely shameful smear of a positively transformational leader and one of America’s best friends and allies. Such a long-tenured PM certainly united more than he divided. He was a reformer and defender of democratic Japan, and of the free world.”

Officials say Abe was shot dead by a man in his 40s with a handmade gun. That individual told investigators following his arrest that he had some form of grudge against Japan’s longest serving prime minister. An investigation is ongoing.

The Independent has approached NPR for comment.

Additional reporting by Reuters