First, take a moment to consider what it must take to become a “disgraced YouTuber.”
For it’s time to hear the tale of Hezumaryu and his two-year journey from internet cause célèbre to aspiring politician.
Born Masahiro Harada in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Hezumaryu showed promise as a wrestler in high school but a shoulder injury forced him to step back from the sport. Shortly after he found notoriety as a YouTuber, mainly for his totsu (“ambush”) schtick in which he would rush into unsuspecting people and badger them to put Mentos in cola.
▼ Hezumaryu (behind the camera) finds pro-wrestler Shibatar and accosts him in a pachinko parlor before getting kicked out.
His videos frequently targeted Shibatar as well as other successful YouTubers, whom he would aggressively demand to collaborate with. This resulted in numerous complaints to YouTube and several suspensions of Hazumaryu’s account. Then, in early June of 2020, he was detained by police for two days. At the request of lawyers it was never reported why, but given his track record there are a number of possible incidents and victims that could have resulted in this arrest.
Nevertheless, Hezumaryu apologized on June 12 and promised to change his ways from there on out. However, at about the same time, a supermarket in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture was consulting police about pressing charges for one of his past videos.
The incident in question occurred on May 29, 2020 when Hezumaryu entered the supermarket and recorded himself going into the seafood section. There he grabbed a pack of sashimi and started eating it as he walked through the aisles. By the time he got to the register the box was empty and he paid for the food while giggling, “I was hungry.”
▼ News report of Hezumaryu’s trial for eating the fish, including courtroom sketches of him crying
This led to his second arrest in Okazaki on July 11, 2020, and to make matters worse on July 15, Okazaki police reported that a young man in custody was found to be infected with COVID-19 and also infected two officers and some inmates. Although they never mentioned him by name, the description and circumstances surrounding the cluster strongly suggested that Hezumaryu was the source.
He kept a low profile until his trial which was set for Oct 15, 2020. However, that was suddenly postponed, possibly because Hezumaryu was to be arrested a third time on Oct 16. These fresh charges stemmed back to a May 1 video in which he attempted to return a T-shirt to a store in Osaka by falsely claiming that it was a knock-off brand. The store charged him with obstruction of business, claiming that he damaged their reputation.
▼ News report on his arrest for the T-shirt incident
Hezumaryu posted bail but was arrested for a fourth time on Oct 24, this time for a video from July 26 in which he lay a futon in the middle of the Shibuya Scramble intersection in Tokyo.
On August 27, 2021, he was found guilty for eating the sashimi in Okazaki a year earlier. Presiding Judge Yasuyuki Mizota ruled that by eating the food before paying he violated the store’s property rights which constituted theft. Hezumaryu was handed down a four-year suspended sentence of one and a half years in prison. During the trial, the YouTuber expressed remorse for his actions, tell thing the court; “I want to live a normal, decent life from now on.”
Many might have interpreted that to mean he’d disappear from the public eye, but less than a month later on Sept 21, Hezumaryu made headlines again by announcing that he would run in the upcoming lower house election in Yamaguchi. He will be running with the Party in Court with NHK for Violating the Lawyers Act, or “NHK Party” for short, formerly known as the Protect the Nation from NHK Party among many other past names. Although party leader Takashi Tachibana is known to frequently court controversy, some feel that enlisting Hezumaryu was a step too far.
“This is just making a fool of the voters.”
“It would be a disgrace for Yamaguchi if he wins.”
“He took zero time to reflect on what he’s done.”
“I’m ashamed to have ever supported Tachibana. He’s just toying with politics.”
“I was thinking of voting for the NHK Party but this is unacceptable. I won’t trust Tachibana again.”
“I feel bad for Hezumaryu’s parents.”
“He’s going from Japan’s most annoying YouTuber to Japan’s most annoying politician.”
Hezumaryu admitted to not knowing much about politics, but felt that running for office was his way to apologize to the people of Yamaguchi, even though his family called him a “stupid idiot” for doing so.
▼ Hezumaryu threw his hat in the ring at a press conference alongside Tachibana and his newest friend “Kim Jong-un”
Perhaps the most poignant moment of his announcement came when he explained that he would officially run as Masahiro Harada but still use the “Hezumaryu” brand because, as he put it: “It’s a sure thing in elections. A bad reputation is better than no reputation at all.”
The sad part is he’s probably right.
Sources: Sankei News, Jisin, Hachima Kiko, Chunichi Shimbun, Yutura, J-Cast News
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