In this week’s news roundup, we take a look at the latest video by PewDiePie, as he criticizes fellow YouTubers for ruining Japan, a country that was, on Tuesday, named as the world’s third-best tourist destination by the World Economic Forum (WEF). On the same day, a black sheet went up in Fujikawaguchiko blocking a popular view of Lawson and Mount Fuji. Tourists are now seeking out other picturesque spots in the area.

In other news this week, we report on Iwao Hakamada’s retrial and pay our respects to Hideyuki Umezu and Akira Nakao. In men’s soccer, former Japan captain Makoto Hasebe plays his final game for Eintracht Frankfurt. 

PewDiePie Believes YouTubers Have ‘Become an Infestation’ in Japan  

For almost a decade, Felix Arvid Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, had the most subscribed channel on YouTube. Despite “retiring” a few years ago, he still posts videos on the platform to his 111 million subscribers, just at a more leisurely pace. Having moved to Japan in 2022, most of his videos these days are about his life here. For his latest upload, posted on Thursday, he slammed fellow YouTubers for ruining Japan. Speaking to his friend Kenneth Morrison, aka CinnamonToastKen, he described YouTubers as “the worst,” adding that “we know because we are YouTubers.”  

He continued, “This all started, of course, with Logan Paul. Now, it’s become an infestation. All these YouTubers are coming, trying to be as obnoxious as possible, get a bunch of attention, get a bunch of hate clicks… and now Ken, it has gone so far that Japan is actually starting to take action.” Kjellberg showed clips of content creators causing trouble but didn’t mention their names. Unsurprisingly, Johnny Somali was among them. The kick streamer hit back on X, describing PewDiePie as “racist” and an “antisemite!” Kjellberg has repeatedly denied allegations that he supports anti-Semitic and racist messages. 

Japan Ranks Third in Travel and Tourism Index

Japan is the world’s third-best tourist destination. At least according to the World Economic Forum’s latest travel and tourism development Index (TTDI), released on Tuesday. A direct evolution of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which began in 2007, the TTDI biennial report, published in collaboration with the University of Surrey, analyzes the travel and tourism sectors of 119 countries. It comprises five dimensions: Enabling Environment, T&T Policy and Enabling Conditions, Infrastructure and Services, T&T Resources and T&T Sustainability. The United States (5.24) topped this year’s list, ahead of Spain (5.18).

Japan dropped two places after topping the last index, released in 2022. It finished with a total of 5.09, scoring well in categories such as safety and security (5.98), health and hygiene (6.23), ground and port infrastructure (6.08) and cultural resources (6.71). However, it scored relatively low in price competitiveness (4.34) and openness to T&T (4.06), and very low in regard to T&T demand sustainability (3.02) and tourist services and infrastructure (2.93). Despite this, tourists are continuing to visit here in record numbers, particularly Tokyo, which recently ranked as the top trending destination for travelers on the Tripadvisor website.

Tourists Have Found a New Mount Fuji Lawson to Swarm 

After a lot of talk and a slight delay, construction of a 2.5-meter high, 20-meter-wide black screen to cover an iconic view of Mount Fuji was completed on Tuesday. Officials in the resort town of Fujikawaguchiko in Yamanashi Prefecture felt the large barrier was necessary to stop hordes of disrespectful tourists causing unrest in the area. The image of Japan’s most famous mountain seemingly sitting on top of a Lawson store went viral in 2022. After Japan opened its borders, the number of visitors to the site started to get out of control. 

The construction of the black sheet is a drastic measure, but will it stop visitors from flocking to the area? Maybe not. Several tourists are already seeking out alternative sites in the region to get the perfect shot, including at another Lawson. Located in front of the town’s government office, it offers a view that’s not too dissimilar to the one at the more famous Kawaguchiko Ekimae Lawson store. Why the fixation on this specific conbini chain? “Apparently, it has to be a Lawson store,” a representative of the Fujikawaguchiko’s tourism section told The Asahi Shimbun. “Perhaps it is because there are not many (Lawson) stores overseas?”


Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Iwao Hakamada

When Iwao Hakamada, the man certified as the world’s longest death row inmate, was granted a retrial last March, the consensus among legal experts was that he would be acquitted. This, though, hasn’t stopped prosecutors from continuing the fight against him. During the closing statements of his retrial on Wednesday, they again demanded the death penalty. Hakamada was sentenced to hang in 1968 for a quadruple murder that occurred two years earlier. His employer, along with his boss’ wife and two children, were found stabbed to death after a fire at their home in Shizuoka.

Following 23 days of intense interrogation, which included threats and beatings, Hakamada confessed to the crime. No lawyer was present. He claimed the police forced him into his admission of guilt. His death sentence, however, was finalized in 1980. Twenty-eight years later, DNA tests showed that the blood on the clothing used as evidence didn’t match his. In 2014, the Shizuoka District Court granted him a retrial. Prosecutors appealed, and the Supreme Court ordered the Tokyo High Court to redo the proceedings. Last year, the high court backed the Shizuoka District Court’s retrial ruling. His ruling is set for September 26.

Hideyuki Umezu Voice Actor Hideyuki Umezu Dies Aged 68

On Tuesday, the agency of Hideyuki Umezu announced that the voice actor sadly passed away on May 17 due to interstitial pneumonia. He was 68. Umezu was most well-known for providing the dubbed Japanese voice of Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films. He also voiced characters in some of the most successful anime ever produced, including Naruto (Amachi), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Barry the Chopper), Hunter × Hunter (Battera), Tenchi Muyo! (Yukinojyo) and One Piece (Diamante). A funeral service was held only with his relatives in accordance with his bereaved family’s wishes.  

A day after the announcement of Umezu’s death came the news that Akira Nakao had also passed away. The famed actor died of heart failure on May 16. He was 81. Nakao made his silver screen debut in 1964 in Ko Nakahira’s romantic flick Only on Mondays. One of his most famous roles came 11 years later when he played Seishi Yokomizo’s popular character, Kosuke Kindaichi, in Death at an Old Mansion. He also appeared in six Godzilla movies, though he was probably best known for playing Tokugawa Muneharu in the long-running period drama, The Unfettered Shogun. 

Curtain Comes Down on Makoto Hasebe’s Stellar Career

In men’s soccer, former Japan captain Makoto Hasebe played the final game of his career on Saturday. He came off the bench in added time as Eintracht Frankfurt drew 2-2 with Leipzig. It was the 40-year-old’s 384th appearance in 17 years in the Bundesliga. Peruvian Claudio Pizarro is the only foreign player to have played more in Germany’s top-flight. During his time with VfL Wolfsburg, FC Nürnberg and Eintracht Frankfurt, Hasebe won the Bundesliga title, the DFB-Pokal and the Europa League. He will be joining Frankfurt’s academy as a coach next season. 

Also in the Bundesliga, Ritsu Doan scored his seventh goal of the season in Freiburg’s 2-1 loss against Union Berlin. In the Premier League, Takehiro Tomiyasu doubled his tally for the campaign in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Everton. The Gunners, however, missed out on the title by two points to Man City. In France, Ado Onaiwu bagged a hat-trick for Auxerre, while in Italy, Daichi Kamada scored a golazo for Lazio. NEC Nijmegen duo Kodai Sano and Koki Ogawa both netted in the Eredivisie. While in Scotland, Kyogo Furuhashi and Kyosuke Tagawa were on target for Celtic and Hearts respectively.  

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