Doctored report falsely claims Japanese newspaper called Olympic champion a 'national shame'

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A photograph of a Japanese newspaper has been shared hundreds of times in multiple social media posts, alongside a claim that it shows the paper calling the country's gymnast and Olympic champion Daiki Hashimoto a "national shame". But the claim is false: the image has been doctored. The main front-page story of the Japanese newspaper actually reported the country's table tennis athletes won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

The image has been shared more than 200 times since it was posted here on Facebook on July 31, 2021.

It purports to show a Japanese-language newspaper with a main headline that reads: "Gymnastics: Daiki Hashimoto gold; received high score despite making a mistake at gymnastics vault. JAPAN'S NATIONAL SAME".

The post's caption, written in simplified Chinese characters, reads: "Speechless (Even Japanese newspaper said getting a gold medal like this is a national shame)."

A screenshot, taken on August 9, 2021, of the misleading post. ( AFP)

The misleading post circulated online days after Japanese athlete Daiki Hashimoto became the youngest men's all-around Olympic gymnastics champion at the age of 19, edging out China's Xiao Ruoteng at the Tokyo Games, AFP reported on July 28, 2021.

The picture, along with a similar claim, was also shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Weibo.

Hong Kong newspaper ET Net also published the same image and claim.

The claim, however, is false: the photograph of the newspaper has been doctored.

Combined reverse image and keyword searches on Google found the digital version of Japanese newspaper Yukan Fuji's July 28, 2021, front page here.

Below is a screenshot of Yukan Fuji's front page:

Screenshot of Yukan Fuji's front page

Yukan Fuji's main front page report is about Japanese mixed doubles pair Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, who defeated China to win Japan's first ever Olympic table tennis gold medal.

The main headline reads: "Table tennis: Mizutani-Mima gold; threw tantrum by repeatedly shouting 'foul play'. CHINA'S NATIONAL SHAME".

The report reads in part: "China was shocked as they lost in its 'national sport'. They did not accept the defeat and instead began to suspect foul play by the Japanese team and blame it on them. On the other hand, Hong Kong, which is suffering from tyranny, cheered for the unexpected victory [of Japan]."

In the misleading posts, the front-page report had been digitally altered to add the reference to Hashimoto into the headline and to insert his photograph.

The original photograph of Hashimoto was posted here on the Instagram account of Chinese state-owned broadcaster CCTV on July 29, 2021.

Below is a screenshot of Hashimoto's photo in CCTV's Instagram post:

Screenshot of Hashimoto's photo in CCTV's Instagram post

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored photo (L) and the digital version of the newspaper Yukan Fuji (R):

Screenshot comparison of the doctored photo (L) and the digital version of the newspaper Yukan Fuji (R)

Genuine photographs of Yukan Fuji's front-page report have also been published by Hong Kong broadcaster Now TV here and Taiwan news site ET Today here.

TOKYO OLYMPICS