National / Social Issues

Soccer star Honda's tweet on government suicide data draws criticism by some, praise by others

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

Soccer star Keisuke Honda has caused a stir on social media with an impassioned “motivational” tweet he posted in response to a news report about Tuesday’s government white paper on suicide.

The annual report showed the number of suicides declining in 2016 to the lowest in 22 years while also citing suicide as the leading cause of death in the country among those aged 15-39.

Honda, probably the highest-profile Japanese footballer still on the field, retweeted a news article referencing the report Tuesday afternoon, with the comment: “Don’t put the blame on others! Don’t blame politics! You have to be thankful for being alive and thank your parents. If you don’t like what you are doing, you can quit. Don’t be obsessed with success! Be obsessed with growth!”

The post, which is believed to have been intended as a motivational message, was retweeted over 8,000 times and liked by more than 14,000 people as of Wednesday afternoon. But it also drew a slew of criticism.

“People die after being pressured by a society with such (values) and others around them,” tweeted the user @comicmoviemusic, whose post was also widely shared. “I don’t want the mighty to force their views on us. What’s wrong with blaming society or politics — as long as that keeps you alive?”

Chiki Ogiue, a noted media critic who has written books on bullying, responded with a series of tweets encouraging Honda to read the entire white paper, pointing out that suicide is a social issue — not just a personal one.

“It is also important to ‘blame politics’ to ensure issues like suicide are put on the political agenda,” he tweeted.

A spokeswoman at Honda Estilo, Honda’s management office in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, confirmed Wednesday that the account @kskgroup2017 was authentic and was penned by the athlete.

Tuesday’s tweet was only the eighth by Honda, who is known on the field for his aggressive playing style and stoicism. He only started tweeting on May 21.

“I’ve just started using Twitter. Frankly I’m not good at SNS,” he wrote in Japanese in his first tweet on May 24. “I have many thoughts on my future life. I would like to share my values and philosophy in Japanese.”

Coronavirus banner