Employers punish Japanese firefighter for owning a YouTube gaming channel

A firefighter in Japan has had his budding career as a gamer cut short after city officials discovered his YouTube channel.

Japan’s firefighters – like this member of the Tokyo fire department – are not permitted to hold second jobs   –   Copyright  Behrouz MEHRI / AFP

The 33-year-old, who works as a sergeant in the Wakayama fire department in western Japan, started uploading let’s play videos of multiplayer strategy games to the streaming site in December 2020.

By October 2021 he had amassed around 15,000 subscribers and made over ¥1 million (€8,700) in advertising revenue, according to Japanese newspaper the Mainichi Shimbun.

But in that same month, city officials in Wakayama received an anonymous tip-off about the firefighter’s channel, prompting an investigation.

As the man did not appear in any of his videos, investigators were forced to comb through the 314 videos on his channel in order to identify him by voice.

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After admitting to his gaming activities, the firefighter’s January paycheck was docked 10 per cent.

“We don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that he was a YouTuber,” city official Hidetaka Amano told AFP.

“But it’s the fact he was profiting from ads, some of which could be inappropriate in nature”.

In making money from Youtube, the man had “betrayed the trust of residents in Wakayama,” Amano added.

The issue, city officials argued, was that the advertising revenue from YouTube contravened Japan’s Local Public Service Act, which bars public employees from moonlighting in other paid roles – including as gaming content makers.

According to the Mainichi, the man had not realised that his hobby could break the rules.

“My recognition of what would be considered a second job was naive,” he reportedly said.