Fifi “Fidias” Panayiotou, a 27-year-old YouTuber with 2.4 million subscribers, is under investigation for filming and traveling across Japan without paying for train rides along with three other fellow international YouTubers.
The YouTube video: Fidias’ recent YouTube video “I Travelled Across Japan For Free,” uploaded on Oct. 20, shows him and his group separately traveling from Nagasaki to Aomori in a race to win $10,000. In the video, Fidias can be seen riding trains without purchasing tickets, including hiding in a toilet on a bullet train and pretending to be ill to avoid a ticket collector. At one point, he also enters a hotel to get free breakfast by pretending to be a guest.
“I just (got) access to a five-star Japanese buffet. And we're leaving the hotel without getting caught and without any problem,” he tells his viewers.
YouTuber Night Scape, who has 1.7 million followers, can also be seen begging locals for money to pay for tickets. It is unclear when the video was shot or if the YouTubers are still in Japan.
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The investigation: JR Kyushu, the regional train operator, has reportedly seen the YouTube video and is considering informing the police.
"We are aware of the case and investigating it," a spokesman said, according to The Japan Times.
Backlash from viewers: Social media users expressed frustration and called for the YouTubers to be arrested.
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“The country is a wonderful place with kind people and is a very clean, respectful, and safe society all around. These ‘influencers’ need to obey the laws of any country that they're in. It's scary that these idiots can give us all a bad name. There needs to be sufficient punishment to deter anyone from trying things like this in the future,” one viewer wrote.
“I hope no one will copy this foolish act. Japan is a country with a wonderful culture. I want all kinds of people to come and enjoy sightseeing, so please don't lower the image of tourists like this. This video is truly boring and disgusting, and its criminal behavior should not be tolerated.” another person commented.
Fidias’ apology: The backlash has led to Fidias issuing an apology on his YouTube channel, vowing to be more culturally sensitive in the future.
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“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 - I love you all,” Fidias wrote on Tuesday.
Not the first time: This incident follows a previous case involving American livestreamer JohnnySomali, who was arrested for trespassing at a construction site and harassing train passengers with references to the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan in 1945.
In 2017, American YouTuber Logan Paul also came under fire for filming and posting a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, famously known as the “suicide forest.” His video drew s 6illion views before being taken down.
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Government's action: As Japan faces issues of overtourism with incidents of foreigners misbehaving, the Japanese government is developing measures to address the problem, which may include higher train ticket prices and innovative solutions like musical trash 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, according to South China Morning Post.
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