Its fundamental principle of respecting others holds a lesson for the Western world in wake of arrests of American YouTubers
Hiroshi Yamaguchi, whose company offers a virtual reality tour allowing people to experience the city of Hiroshima as it was before, during and after the atomic bomb attack, during a tour of the city on May 15. An American YouTuber was arrested Sept. 22 for posting provocative videos including those on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Photo: AFP)
In a recent development that has sparked widespread concern and discussions about online behavior and cultural sensitivity, an American YouTuber using the tag “Johnny Somali” found himself in legal trouble in Japan.
The individual in question, 23-year-old Ramsey Khalid Ismael, was apprehended by Osaka prefectural police on Sept. 21. The arrest was in connection with an incident that occurred on Aug. 20, during which Ismael was accused of trespassing at a hotel construction site situated in Osaka's Nipponbashi district.
In the video captured and shared by him on an online platform, Ismael is seen repeatedly and provocatively shouting “Fukushima.”
This to his simpleminded thinking would be an insult as “every Japanese is responsible for the accident that occurred at the nuclear power plant in 2011 due to the tsunami.”
Ismael disregarded requests from construction workers to vacate the premises. Both the YouTube video and security footage played critical roles in identifying him and his subsequent arrest.
Adding another layer of ridicule to this incident, the police on Sept. 22 also arrested a suspected accomplice, 24-year-old Jeremiah Dwane Branch, who is also a US citizen. Branch was allegedly responsible for recording the video at the construction site, implicating him in the trespassing crime as well.
"It was a demonstration of not just insensitivity but ignorance"
Both Ismael and Branch exercised their right to remain silent until they were in the presence of a lawyer, further complicating the legal process and the investigation into the incident.
The young American YouTuber has a very controversial reputation, which he meticulously tried to build in order to enhance his social media presence. Ismael also posted other provocative videos where he can be heard shouting the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to passersby or Japanese people riding the subway.
Again, in a display of his lack of understanding and empathy, Ismael callously shouted these city names as if seeking to evoke shame among the Japanese populace, particularly those born long after the tragic events of the atomic bombings.
It was a demonstration of not just insensitivity but ignorance, implying that being a victim of such horrifying events should somehow be a source of shame.
The attempt by the YouTuber to exploit this painful history for shock value demonstrates a complete disregard for the profound and lasting impact these events had on generations of Japanese individuals and families, as well as the families of the very American servicemen who dropped those bombs.
Johnny Somali’s actions highlighted the pressing need that the US has for education. But not just any education, one that would provide empathy and cultural sensitivity to bridge gaps in mutual understanding and foster a world characterized by mutual respect and not ludicrous hatred.
This incident is not an isolated case of an American YouTuber disregarding the fundamental principles of mutual respect.
A notable case that underscored a clash in cultural understanding involved American YouTuber Logan Paul, who faced a severe backlash for venturing into a forest near Mount Fuji with the explicit intention of filming incidents of suicide.
"What often eludes many from Western cultures is the underlying foundation of Japanese values"
Shockingly, he proceeded to live-stream a distressing event where a Japanese individual tragically took their own life by hanging from a tree branch.
Contrastingly, Japanese YouTubers, residing in the same country, refrain from pushing such morally reprehensible content. This stark difference in behavior can be attributed to an unwritten yet deeply ingrained law within Japanese society.
This unspoken principle revolves around a fundamental concept: respect for others. It signifies limits on actions and content creation, emphasizing the importance of respecting others' emotions and well-being.
What often eludes many from Western cultures is the underlying foundation of Japanese values. The perceived aloofness and privacy cherished by the average Japanese individual are not a result of some elusive genetic trait but rather an outcome of the Japanese education system.
Flawed it may be, but this system is instrumental in instilling values of respect and understanding in its citizens. The aim is to mold adults to treat one another with respect and consideration.
This aspect of Japanese culture, rooted in mutual respect and social cooperation, is a significant reason why Western tourists find themselves drawn to Japan repeatedly. It offers a level of social harmony and interaction that resonates deeply with those seeking a society built on cooperation and empathy.
These incidents involving YouTubers underscore a significant lesson for the Western world.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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