Charlie Chaplin was one of the most famous actors of his day, yet even for him this is a strange event to be tangled up in. The year was 1932 and Japan was about to experience what would come to be called the “May 15th Incident.”
On that day, eleven young naval officers decided to assassinate the Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi and the visiting Chaplin. The conspirators believed Japan was becoming too weak under democratic leadership and wished to impose martial law.
They successfully murdered the Prime Minister, yet luckily Chaplin was at a sumo-wrestling match, which saved his life. The eleven conspirators actually turned themselves in, yet the consequences are perhaps even stranger than the event.
It turns out the eleven officers were hoping that after assassinating their Prime Minister and implementing martial law throughout Japan, they could murder Chaplin, inciting America to declare war on Japan.
Luckily the coup was a failure and Chaplin survived; yet the public was distraught by its failure. A massive public outcry in support of the conspirators emerged, resulting in an extremely light sentence.
350,000 signatures in blood were presented to the government begging for a light punishment, and eleven youths even volunteered to be executed in place of naval officers!