Foreign YouTuber apologises after free-riding Japan trip

24 Oct 2023 02:57pm
A Shinkansen bullet train runs on a railroad in Tokyo. For illustrative purposes only. Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP
A Shinkansen bullet train runs on a railroad in Tokyo. For illustrative purposes only. Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP

TOKYO - A YouTuber with 2.4 million subscribers apologised on Tuesday after a video of him and three others free-riding around Japan became the latest example of fame-seeking foreigners riling locals.

The YouTuber known by the username Fidias posted a video over the weekend of the four riding trains and buses around Japan -- in some cases without paying.

In the video, Fidias hides in a toilet of a bullet train, pretends to be ill when confronted by a ticket collector, and then escapes to board another train where he pulls the same trick.

Another clip shows him entering a hotel and pretending to be a guest in order to get free breakfast.

"I just (got) access to a five-star Japanese buffet. And we're leaving the hotel without getting caught and without any problem," he triumphantly tells the camera.

Other parts of the video show the four, one of whom appears to be the YouTuber Night Scape who has 1.7 million followers, begging money from locals to pay for tickets.

It was unclear when the footage was shot or whether the three men and one woman were still in Japan.

"Another strange, annoying YouTuber from abroad emerged. In addition to this guy Fidias, the three others should be arrested," one social media user said in Japanese.

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Another said: "surprisingly, comments section to his (online post) is full of applause. (Police) should arrest him to prevent copycat crimes from happening."

- 'Not our goal' -

Regional train operator JR Kyushu said it was studying the footage before deciding whether to inform the police.

"We are aware of the case and investigating facts around it," a spokesman told AFP.

Fidias on Tuesday posted an apology on his channel, saying: "hello beautiful people i apologize to the Japanese people if we made them feel bad that was not our goal ! from now on i am going to be make more research to the cultures we go to and try to prevent this from happening again."

The incident came a month after Japanese police arrested a US livestreamer known as Johnny Somali for allegedly trespassing into a construction site.

According to video footage, Ismael Ramsey Khalid, 23, wore a facemask and repeatedly shouted "Fukushima" to construction workers who urged him to leave the site, police officer Genta Hayashi told AFP, referring to the stricken nuclear power plant.

Another clip shows Khalid, who describes himself as a former child soldier, harassing train passengers with references to the US atomic bombings of Japan in 1945.

Khalid has only 12,500 followers on YouTube and 10,800 on another platform known as Kick, where his account is marked "offline". His Twitch account was reportedly taken down.

- 'Bad manners' -

In 2017, US YouTuber Logan Paul attracted controversy with a video he posted of a dead body in a Japanese "suicide forest" that drew six million views before being taken down.

Incidents of foreigners behaving badly, including by drinking in public and littering, are a regular cause of annoyance in largely law-abiding Japan, not least on Mount Fuji.

The government is working on a package of measures aimed at reducing "overtourism", reportedly including more expensive train tickets and musical rubbish bins.

"In some areas and during certain periods, there has been an impact on the lives of local residents due to inbound tourists, such as bad manners," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said this month. - AFP

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