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Japanese rail operator probes free-riding foreign YouTubers

TOKYO – One of Japan’s main rail operators said on Tuesday it is investigating four foreign YouTubers who seemingly take free rides on trains around the country, in the latest case of fame-seeking foreigners’ antics riling locals.

A YouTuber known by the username Fidias, who has 2.38 million subscribers, posted a video over the weekend of the four riding trains around Japan without paying for tickets.

At one stage, Fidias hides in a toilet of a bullet train, pretending to be ill when confronted by a ticket collector, and 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 for money from locals to pay for tickets.

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

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.

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

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

“Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. I don’t want visitors to destroy the environment. If there are a lot of foreigners like this, we won’t want them anymore,” wrote a third.

Fidias posted an apology on his YouTube channel, saying: “I apologise to the Japanese people if we made them feel bad... 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, Mr Ismael Ramsey Khalid, 23, wore a facemask and repeatedly shouted “Fukushima” to construction workers who urged him to exit from the site, police officer Genta Hayashi told AFP, referring to the stricken nuclear power plant.

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

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

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. - AFP

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