Eiki Akiyama, a 22-year-old man who drowned off Bird Island last New Year’s Day, was a famous YouTuber or vlogger in Japan, where his death was big news particularly in social media.
Japan-based journalist Naoki Imai and Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher Concepcion confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that Akiyama was a pioneering YouTuber in Japan and was adored by many fans especially the youth.
“Many young YouTuber respect him and seem to miss him,” said Imai in an email.
Imai said although Akiyama’s death was not so big in the newspapers, it was so large in the internet.
“Even now, many people have offered condolence to him,” he said.
Saipan Tribune learned that Akiyama was a member of a four-boy group called Avntis, which started making videos during their school days in Saitama prefecture, Japan. As an entertainer, he used the name Eiji.
Akiyama’s older brother, who is using a stage name “KB,” is also a member of a popular Japanese boy group “Addiction.”
Concepcion said this is extremely sad and tragic as any loss of life is very unfortunate, especially when the deceased is young and dies so unexpectedly.
Concepcion said his information was that Akiyama came to Saipan as a free independent traveler to ring in the 2019 New Year in the CNMI.
He said Akiyama, known as Eiji, was from Avntis, a very popular YouTuber group from Japan with over a million followers.
“We are aware that his fans have been publicly mourning his death through social media all throughout Japan,” said Concepcion, adding that MVA is closely monitoring media reports about his death.
He said they have asked their MVA Japan representative office to keep their pulse on the situation.
“The MVA extends our deepest condolences to Eiji, Avntis, and all their fans and followers and wish to reassure them that the CNMI remains a safe place to visit,” the managing director said.
Concepcion said the waters of the Marianas are beautiful, but can also be very dangerous in rough weather conditions.
He advised visitors to heed all rough water warning and advisories issued by local and federal government officials.
According to Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Derek Gersonde, they received a call from the Department of Public Safety’s dispatch last Jan. 1 about a distressed swimmer at Bird Island.
Gersonde said at 1:22pm, DFEMS emergency medical technicians from Susupe Fire Station responded and arrived at the scene at 1:35pm.
He said DFEMS first responders then went down on foot along the trail to Bird Island where Akiyama was located.
Gersonde said a bystander was already doing chest compressions on Akiyama in an attempt to revive him.
Gersonde said the bystander stated that he found the unconscious victim under water and pulled him out and immediately performed cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation on him until the DFEMS responders arrived.
The victim was transported to the Commonwealth Health Center, where a doctor pronounced him dead at 2:55pm on that same day.
The DFEMS report did not mention who was with Akiyama at Bird Island. As of yesterday, DPS has yet to release information about the incident.