Video showing body of man who committed suicide in Aokigahara forest was only up for a day, but the backlash is likely to last much longer.

During a visit to Japan, American vlogger Logan Paul and his crew had a plan to camp overnight in Aokigahara, a lush forest that spreads out from the base of Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture. However, while Aokigahara is trying to establish itself as a sightseeing destination for nature lovers, its primary image is as one of the most common spots for suicide in Japan.

While hiking through the woods, Paul came across the hanging body of a man who had apparently committed suicide, and while he did blur the man’s face, he uploaded a video showing the body to YouTube on December 31, giving it the title “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…”

▼ Clips from the now-deleted YouTube video (the body is not shown)

The video quickly racked up millions of views, but also drew heavy criticism, prompting Paul to take it down on January 1, and issue a pair of apologies, one written and one in video form, on January 2.

The now-deleted Aokigahara video was not monetized, and began with a message imploring those considering suicide to seek help. “I didn’t do it for the views,” Paul says of the video in his written apology. “I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.” However, those sentiments don’t seem to mesh with some of the Aokigahara video’s content, such as when Paul chuckles and asks “What, you never stand next to a dead guy?” when one of his travel companions says he “doesn’t feel good” after discovering the body.

Also odd are Paul’s in-video statements that “this was supposed to be a fun vlog” and “we came here with an intent to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest, this just became very real and obviously a lot of people are going through a lot of s— in their lives.” While finding a dead body doesn’t seem to have been part of the initial plan for the video, nor something Paul seems to have expected would actually happen, the bare-minimum amount of prior research required to find out that Aokigahara is a scary place will also reveal that suicides continue to happen frequently within the forest, and implying that the issue just became “real” once you actually stumble upon a dead body is pretty tone-deaf, as is walking into the area expecting to make a “fun” video that plays off the area’s ongoing status as a place where distraught individuals choose to end their lives.

Perhaps because the video was both uploaded and deleted during Japan’s New Year’s holiday period, or maybe because of Paul’s considerably lower level of fame in Japan than in the west, the incident hasn’t attracted quite as large-scale a backlash as it has in English-speaking circles. Nevertheless, Japanese Twitter users who are talking about it don’t have much in the way of kind words for Paul (translations appear below each tweet).

“I saw Logan Paul’s Aokigahara video, and I think it’s terrible to laugh and make a spectacle out of people who experienced so much mental anguish that they kill themselves. I don’t want to ever have anything to do with him.”

“This Loga Paul YouTuber is a terrible person. Going to Aokigahara? Is he stupid? He’s got no common sense or manners, and I wish he’d learn there’s a limit to what you should do when trying to make what he thinks is a good video. Actions like his will make people think ‘Are all YouTubers from his country like that?’”

“American YouTuber Logan Paul is the absolute worst. Uploading a video to YouTube showing a dead body…It’s not true for every YouTuber, but they’re all (some of them) weirdos, and what he did is aggravating to Japan.”

“Heard about Logan Paul. Seriously, he’s the worst…”

“Logan Paul is an even bigger piece of garbage than I thought he was.”

“This really pisses me off. Do popular YouTubers think they can just upload whatever they want? Does he think it’s OK because he put a mosaic over the deceased’s face?”

While the criticism of Paul’s actions has been near-universal on Japanese Twitter, it’s worth noting that even some people in Japan have a dark fascination with Aokigahara, and at least one commenter pointed out that Japanese media isn’t uniformly above sensationalizing suicide or death.

“Japanese TV stations do the same sort of thing [as Paul did]. People in Japan are complaining about him? It’s obvious he doesn’t need to apologize. Japanese TV stations don’t.”

However, another commenter argued that even when Japanese organizations cover Aokigahara, there’s at least a veneer of gravity in the way the information is presented.

Following the reaction from his Aokigahara video, Paul does seem to be showing genuine contrition, judging from some of his words in his video apology.

“I made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgement, and I don’t expect to be forgiven,” he says, adding “None of us knew how to react or how to feel. I should have never posted the video. I should have put the cameras down.” He then goes on to apologize to viewers, those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, and “most importantly… the victim and his family.” He even goes so far as to say “For my fans who are defending my actions, please don’t. They do not deserve to be defended,” but it’s likely that those who find his actions unforgivable no longer are, or never will become, fans of his.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Sources: Nikkan Sports via Otakomu, The Washington Post, BBC (1, 2)
Top image: Wikipedia/Alpsdake