Fake news story goes viral around the world, but the real story behind it is just as compelling.

During times of war, misinformation can spread like wildfire online, as the Internet becomes saturated with images and reports related to the conflict that aren’t always true.

That’s what happened this week, when a photo of a man in samurai outfit went viral online.

The image above appeared on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social media platforms, where it was shared with the following message:

“The Japanese ambassador to Ukraine stayed in Kiev.
His great-grandfather’s samurai sword and traditional armor was delivered to him from Tokyo, Japan.
In a FB post, he declared that the samurai must protect the country in which he is!
‘Glory to Japan! Glory to Ukraine!'”

However, as readers of our site will know — seeing as we reported on the photo on 18 February, almost a week before the invasion of Ukraine began — this is not the Japanese Ambassador To Ukraine. It’s the Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan, and he’s not in Kiev, or Kyiv, he’s in Tokyo.

The photo first appeared online in this 15 February post from Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan.

As for the samurai armour being delivered from his great-grandfather, that’s also a lie, as it was provided by samurai artist Tetsuro Shimaguchi. Shimaguchi (below) who lives in Japan where he teaches kengido, a style of samurai swordplay. He also choreographed and appeared in sword-fighting scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 blockbuster Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

Korsunsky initially met with Shimaguchi as part of a cultural exchange activity after he took up his position as ambassador at the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan in April 2020, and the two have been vocal about their support for each other’s countries ever since.

While it’s unclear whether Visegrád 24, which claims to deliver “news, politics, current affairs, history and culture from the Visegrád countries” (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), was responsible for skewing the story behind the ambassador’s photo, they haven’t made any moves to correct the story or take the misleading post down.

The Embassy of Ukraine in Japan says it has been attempting to correct the misleading narrative, but the fake story has spread so rapidly it’s now become impossible for them to rectify.

Thankfully, people who know the truth online are continuing to make the real story known, including news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), who ran a story on the truth behind the photo on their digital verification site, AFP Fact Check.

So next time somebody tells you about the mysterious Japanese ambassador in Ukraine fighting with his great grandfather’s samurai armour, you might want to ask them to check their sources.

And then tell them the truth about the Ukrainian ambassador in Japan, who dressed in samurai armour as a show of strength against Putin and the impending invasion. Because that story is equally compelling, and best of all, true.

Sources: Twitter/@KorsunskySergiy, Twitter/@kamuitetsuro, Twitter/@visegrad24 via AFP Fact CheckYahoo! News 
Top image: Twitter/@KorsunskySergiy
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