The legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, 135 years ago!

135 years ago Charlie Chaplin was born!

The legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, 135 years ago!

Charlie Chaplin miraculously escaped death, because an assassination attempt was being prepared on him during his visit to Japan in 1932.

Chaplin was a crowd favorite. In fact, he became the first actor to be adored by crowds and greeted with loud applause everywhere.

Charlie Chaplin had been interested in Japan for a long time. He liked theatrical productions imbued with the spirit of the samurai. He read books about Japan. And after the release of the film “City Lights,” Chaplin decided to go to the country of his dreams.

Despite their wild popularity and respect, a number of oddities awaited Chaplin. Agents rummaged through his belongings and demanded that he bow towards the imperial residence. And lunches took two hours, when you had to sit in an uncomfortable position and eat with chopsticks. Charlie Chaplin admitted that he had never been so tired as during a Japanese dinner.

But the positive impressions and acquaintance with the culture covered the negative from these oddities. Chaplin was delighted with Japan.

Officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, together with the ultra-Nazi “Blood League” party, planned a military coup. They planned to eliminate 20 major politicians and businessmen and give unlimited powers to the emperor. Their main target is Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai.

And Chaplin’s presence was very helpful for them. His murder would definitely lead to an international scandal, which the conspirators also counted on.

The officers’ goal was to restore the Japanese fleet to its former glory. And break the limits on fleet size prescribed by international agreements. And the ultra-Nazis wanted the revival of the empire – so that the emperor would once again sit on the throne with unlimited powers.

Chaplin went to watch sumo with Tsuyoshi Inukai Takeru, the son of the Prime Minister of Japan. Charlie Chaplin really liked sumo:

“An amazing sight. If you don’t understand technology, the process seems pretty funny. And it produces a hypnotic effect.”

The conspirators believed that Chaplin’s murder would provoke a conflict between the United States and Japan. And this will improve the health of society, which will be forced to unite in the face of a new common threat. In general – nothing new. In all dictatorships and empires (and it was this that the nationalists wanted to revive) they are always looking for an external enemy in order to transfer the aggression of the population onto it.

Charlie Chaplin was simply behind schedule. He spent more time than planned on sumo. “After the fights I talked with the athletes. And then I went to my room.” The prime minister invited Chaplin to tea and it was at this moment that the conspirators planned the assassination attempt.

If he had been in the Prime Minister’s house at that moment, he would have suffered the same fate.

And when Chaplin was getting ready for tea with the prime minister in his room, Takeru ran in and told him that his father had been killed.

In addition to the Prime Minister, the conspirators attacked the residences of several ministers and a bank. However, they failed to attract the broad masses and the conspirators were captured.

How did Chaplin react when he learned that the conspirators were trying to kill him? He got off with a joke. He reminded me that he is English. And the conspirators would have been in trouble, because the United States would not have started a war over a Briton, even a popular one.

Japan’s lesson is valuable for the rest of the world. Finding an external enemy is a very simple way, which is why many politicians love him. However, very often this path leads to a dead end.

Yuri Chekalin

Yuri Chekalin is a Professor of Tokyo University, History Department, and a Political Analyst.

He also works as a commentator for Fitzroy Magazine.

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