The Claim and Our Verdict
The claim: A video featuring children making a vow claims to be recorded at an elementary school in Shanghai attended by Japanese students. The caption claims that the students in the video were reciting an oath that included the statement, “Shanghai is ours, and China will soon be ours too.”
Fact-checking: The video was recorded during the 2019 Sports Day at Nishiurawa Elementary School in Saitama City, Japan, not at a Japanese elementary school in Shanghai. The sports day oath depicted in the video is not related to China, and the subtitles are entirely incorrect.
Our verdict: The subtitles of the viral video have been fabricated. The video was recorded in Japan and does not show students from a Japanese elementary school in Shanghai taking an oath.
An article featuring a video screenshot was posted March 3, 2023, on the Chinese forum website Zhihu. The simplified Chinese-language caption translates as, “Declaration by Japanese elementary school students in Shanghai: Shanghai is ours, and China will soon be ours too.” Similar videos were also shared on Weibo and Douyin.
As of the time of publication, the Zhihu article had received 76 comments and 302 likes.
Through a reverse image search, a tweet published March 18, 2023 by the twitter account “東京溫哥” was found. The tweet shared a video that was almost identical to the viral video. The tweet claims, “I am the author of this original video, which was shot on the sports day of my daughter’s school. Before the games, representatives of the red and white teams took an oath in the presence of the principal: ‘We promise that we shall respect for our opponents, abide by the rules that govern the games, and put forth our greatest effort to achieve the best results, in the true spirit of sportsmanship…’ Unfortunately, my video was stolen by someone from China, and the edited version has been widely shared online with fake subtitles (e.g., I want to invade China when I grow up).”
The profile of the twitter account “東京溫哥” states that he has settled in Tokyo for 12 years and is currently an education blogger and documentary director. He frequently shares videos depicting life in Japan on Twitter. On March 18, he posted the original video with the caption: “Let me post the original video here… It was shot in 2019 during a competition where representatives of the red and white teams chanted slogans to show their determination to win.” This video is identical to the viral one.
The oath’s content in the video translates as, “I promise that my teammates and I will put forth our greatest effort to achieve the best results to the end, in the true spirit of sportsmanship. On Sept. 22, 2019, Sasaki, representative of the red team, and Kasuya, representative of the white team…” (仲間と最後まで協力し合い、正々堂々全力を出し切ることを誓います。令和元年九月二十二日、赤組班長佐々木、白組班長粕谷……) There was no mention of any content related to China, Shanghai, or Zhejiang. The subtitles of the viral video are entirely mistranslated.
After checking the original video file provided by “東京溫哥,” it was found from the metadata that the video was recorded Sept. 22, 2019.
In addition, the video also shows individuals wearing clothing with the words “西小” and “Nishiurawa Elementary School.” Nishiurawa Elementary School is located in Saitama City, Japan, not in Shanghai, China.
A comparison of the photos of the playground at Nishiurawa Elementary School posted by other Twitter users and the video released by “東京溫哥” shows that the video was indeed shot at Nishiurawa Elementary School in Saitama City, Japan, not a Japanese school in Shanghai as previously claimed.
The subtitles of the viral video have been fabricated. The video was recorded in Japan and does not show students from a Japanese elementary school in Shanghai taking an oath.
- Zhihu, “Declaration by Japanese elementary school students in Shanghai: Shanghai is ours, and China will be ours too,” March 3, 2023.
- Weibo, post, March 12, 2023.
- Douyin, video, March 13, 2023.
- Twitter, tweet, March 18, 2023.
- Twitter, tweet, March 18, 2023.
- Twitter, tweet, April 23, 2022.