The Kanto Massacre: A Story of Disinformation and Denialism

Rumors and disinformation sparked the Kanto Massacre in the wake of the Kanto Earthquake. Today, denialism continues to dishonor the victims.

Unseen Japan
10 min readSep 16, 2023

By Himari Semans

Kanto Massacre

The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 was a disaster for Japan in its own right. In the aftermath, disinformation — particularly targeting ethnic Koreans — stoked confusion, hate, and fear.

The uncounted victims

Victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake — –a total of 105,385 of them. They are who the Japanese remember.

The government designates September 1st as Disaster Prevention Day. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio takes part in central government drills and mock emergency meetings. 130 Japanese including the families of victims, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, and Deputy Governor of Tokyo Nakamura Rinji attend a memorial service at Yokoamicho Park in Sumida Ward where 38,000 people died.

“As we arrive at the 100-year milestone since the Great Kanto Earthquake, each and every one of us must once again raise our awareness about preventing disaster,” said Deputy Governor Nakamura, as he read a statement by Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko.