Articles, Blog

The Spartan Death Trials of Yonaguni Island

November 23, 2019

I hate taxes. In fact, I hate everything about taxes. I hate the idea of taxes, I hate paying taxes. I hate even thinking about taxes. I bet you do too. But even still, there is no way you hate taxes
as much as the people of Yonaguni. Because if you did, chances are
you wouldn’t still be alive. The island of Yonaguni is closer
to Taiwan than it is to Japan. In fact, it is closer to Taiwan even than
it is to its next neighbour over on its island chain. Which has meant that throughout history, it has had
a unique language, expressed a unique culture, and due to its relative remoteness has
sort of been left undisturbed by its neighbours. It still had to pay tribute to the empires,
just like everybody. Sometimes China, sometimes Japan. But even as a member of the Ryukyu kingdom,
they were sort of the masters of their own domain. Sure, they were subsistence level farmers
and fishermen, but they got by. All of that changed when Okinawa
was conquered by Japan. When Japan invaded Okinawa, as with all feudal
societies of the past they looked to their new subjects to provide both manpower and supplies. Here on the island of Yonaguni with barely
a few hundred people to begin with, and as far from the mainland as the Japanese
tentacle could grasp, that meant supplies. In turn, this island, which was not particularly
well-cultivated, received a head tax so large that there was no way they could
possibly fulfill it. To the elders of the community, this would
have been an extreme imposition. Rice and materials would need to be
provided in numbers that would effectively starve
their entire community to death. There was no way with their population
that it was possible they’d be able to meet the demands
of their Japanese overlords, and in their desperation they turned to an option
that today seems almost unfathomable. Democide. For the community to survive,
the weakest would have to die. There would be no room for those
who were unable to work. There would be no room for those who could
not produce more than the tax demanded. And so they set about creating a series of
challenges that would help them choose who lived and who died. Two of these challenges are remembered
by the people of Yonaguni today, and in a somewhat macabre fashion, have been
made into spots for Japanese tourists to come and silently reflect on the toll
their colonialism imposed on these people. In the centre of the island, there was
a famous rice paddy. It is almost equidistant from the major population
centers, and takes roughly the same amount of time to reach from any of the island’s
furthest pastures. It was there that the leaders of the community
set as a destination for a foot race lifted right from the pages of a Stephen King novel. Once a bell was rung, you ran to the paddy. No matter what you were doing,
you dropped your work, and you ran. The first few hundred people to make it
here would be allowed to live. Everyone else would be killed. At least in theory, it was an egalitarian way of
deciding who was the most physically fit. Who was the most able to work. It wasn’t about age or gender
or physical size. It was merely a race to the finish. The second way of keeping population down
focused, not surprisingly, on pregnant women. As the tax would have been levied against the
community based on the total number of citizens, adding new people was a very dangerous affair. So just as with the race to the paddy,
they turned it into a test of strength. On the far Western corner of the island, near the town of
Kubura, there’s a chasm in the earth. It isn’t particularly deep or
a spiritually profound location. It wasn’t a magical gate to hell or
anything interesting like that. It was just a little bit too wide for a weakened
pregnant woman to leap across. Which, naturally, is what they made them do. If you got pregnant, you’d be forced
to jump across the chasm. And if you made it, you and your baby were safe. If you didn’t, they’d bludgeon you
to death then and there. Again, a fairly egalitarian way of deciding
which women would be strong enough to work through the pregnancy, and which in their
eyes would produce the most capable children. I feel for the people who had to make that choice
almost as much as I do those forced to leap. Because nobody specifically told them
they had to kill their own people. They just gave them a number
they could never hope to meet. They taxed them to the point
that life was simply unsustainable. For their community to survive, the weakest
would have to die, and as harsh as it was, they did their best to make it fair. They calculated their losses, and acted. I’m certain that nobody on Yonaguni
wanted to kill their pregnant women, nobody wanted to slaughter their
slowest relatives and friends. They did it because they had to. And in turn, they survived the worst
of the mainland demands. They survived another year of colonization. I often talk about how bad it is to be colonized,
but I focus on the things that the colonizers did. I often talk about how bad war is,
but I focus on the things the warriors did. But there’s more to the horror of conquest
than the direct actions of the conquerors. We’re all affected by the choices
of our leaders. We’re all taxed. Often for wars we have no desire to wage. Sometimes we’re taxed so much it kills us. The right solution to a problem
isn’t always right. There are times when we have to
sacrifice those that we love. When we have to sacrifice our children
and ourselves. Just to survive as a community. And I think that’s something that
we have forgotten in our world of plenty, for better and worse. But here on Yonaguni they remember. Even if it’s just as a tourist site. This is Rare Earth. And I honestly don’t know if I would make it.
Pregnant or not.


  • Reply Manox November 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm


  • Reply Carlos Daniel Peterson November 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    also love this

  • Reply Thomas Buckley November 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    You're great! Please keep making these!

  • Reply Avery the Cuban-American November 23, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Rare Earth: I hate taxes
    Prince John: Taxes! Taxes! Beautiful, lovely taxes

  • Reply l p November 23, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Ah, so you did accidently post on friday.

  • Reply Shivam Sharma November 23, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Death trial of yonagoni island ?

  • Reply The God Emperor of Mankind November 23, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Eyy, it's back. Watched it yesterday and wondered why it got taken down

  • Reply watchdealer11 November 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    History is so fucked up ?

  • Reply l p November 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    More like Sadist Island

  • Reply Joey November 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Just watched the video about the island of women


  • Reply NoName November 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    so instead of rebelling they decided to… kill themselves?
    truly idiotic asian culture

  • Reply Twitchi November 23, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Yup, I'd be dead…

  • Reply watchdealer11 November 23, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Now I see where Battle Royale came from.

  • Reply iammaxhailme November 23, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I guess the quesiton is, do you hate taxes more than you hate living in a society with no services, police, firemen, schools, roads, etc

  • Reply L Monk November 23, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    This is crazy. Another great video, ethan.

  • Reply WalterRamjet HeroOfOurNation November 23, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    these people were sick fucks

  • Reply Starrylock November 23, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Dark and interesting story from a tragic history.

  • Reply MrEnjoivolcom1 November 23, 2019 at 7:47 pm


  • Reply Moot Damon November 23, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Tried to watch this yesterday but you privatized it so quick ??

  • Reply Beagle November 23, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    I don't hate taxes ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • Reply CybershamanX November 23, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    For a minute there I thought that adding the word "Spartan" to the video title satisfied the YouTube powers that be, because I had a feeling that having just "death trials" in the title was what was holding up the video. 😉 At least that's the impression I initially got after hearing that some creators immediately set a video to Private after uploading it due to some unforeseen issue with the content/title/description. But after reading your video description, I'm glad that wasn't the case! I should have known since come to think of it, your videos generally come out on the weekend anyway. 😉 So much for my conspiracy theory! 😛

  • Reply Dare Daemon November 23, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    I don't hate taxes, and I don't think it's healthy to hate taxes; and I think it's especially unhealthy to frame hating taxes as the natural, normal state of being.

  • Reply Jay John November 23, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Great video. Very thought provoking as usual.

  • Reply iammaxhailme November 23, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    You always manage to find the most depressing stuff that I've never heard of. A true talent

  • Reply Firefox is red, Explorer is blue. Google+ sucks and Chrome does too. November 23, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Thinking about taxes is very taxing.

  • Reply BennettParsons1 November 23, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    When he said “I hate taxes.” I felt that.

  • Reply Brad Miller November 23, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Seems like mostly he just wants to talk about death…..
    Will someone get this guy a blow job so he isn't so gloomy?

  • Reply ꧂Oddish꧂ November 23, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Bless the Maker and His water.

    Bless the coming and going of Him.

    May His passage cleanse the world.

    May He keep the world for His people.

  • Reply Peter Börjesson November 23, 2019 at 7:54 pm


  • Reply Kaul November 23, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Starting a rebellion would have probably been a better solution.

  • Reply Russel Brooks November 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    Don't give Trump a link to this video, it'll just give him ideas…

  • Reply Jon Solsvig November 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    I watched this video yesterday and when I tried to watch it again it disappeared from my watch history and from the uploads on this channel so I thought I just hallucinated the whole thing

  • Reply Open Eye November 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    I like taxes, because I enjoy clean streets, working sewer systems, bridges that don’t collapse when you drive over them, fire trucks that come and put my house out if it’s on fire, and ambulances that come pick me up after saying I like taxes and then get shot. Are my taxes used to 100% efficacy and not abused? HA!!! But what better system do we have that can be enacted right now. Not Just fun ideas. Real life change right now. Go ahead im listening.

  • Reply mad ass November 23, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Sounds like a good plan, not like nowdays.

  • Reply M. Nyima-Taylor November 23, 2019 at 7:57 pm


  • Reply Rare Earth November 23, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Tax yourself:

  • Reply bal cheema November 23, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    instead of fighting for week they killed em ,terrible choice .

  • Reply Chris R November 23, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    so, she's pregnant! congratulations!

  • Reply Admiral Ackbar November 23, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    This is rare earth. It’s also pretty fucked up.

  • Reply Pradeep Poonia November 23, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    So much crime happened because of colonialism. Yet the west next apologized for it.

  • Reply MrSamulai November 23, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Makes you wonder. When your society is killing pregnant women, what exactly are you still protecting?

  • Reply El'Dar R. November 23, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    I love taxes, as long as they are spent on improving the lives of people around me

  • Reply Christopher Allan November 23, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    History can be very sad.

  • Reply Mo Jerome November 23, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    History, never forget. Ever

  • Reply bill baggins November 23, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Taxes… Maybe not quite as extreme, but try being a smoker in Australia. Over $100 for 50 grams of tobacco. 12% increase twice a year, currently netting the govt over $100million a week yet our health system is still in crisis?? Nobody minds paying a bit more to offset the cost of the health risks but the way things are is blatant discrimination and outright theft

  • Reply Will Collins November 23, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Hahahaha great video. Last statement was the perfect glint of light on a dark subject. Thanks.

  • Reply spitfire red November 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    This is sad, very sad, God will reward those and the ones that don't well you know!

  • Reply Penitent Hollow November 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Hey man, I'm not a trained videographer or anything but I'm very trainable. If you need to fly me out there to fly a drone or point a camera at you I can be available. Also I'm a polyglot so that might help too.

  • Reply Lucas Harris November 23, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    So does this mean Battle Royal is based on true story?

  • Reply ExPFC Wintergreen v2.0 November 23, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    1. Death
    2. Taxes
    3. People who cruise in the passing lane

  • Reply VLRgospel09 November 23, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Who's here who watched the video before he privated it?

  • Reply ndahadelos November 23, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Imagine if any other culture did this that the media doesn't look good upon. they did what they had to do would be, ''barbaric practices of a backwards country'' in a tiny second. history revisionism is a fake excuse for sincerity.

  • Reply Néstor Abreu Jiménez November 23, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Now the IRS will make us race to death

  • Reply Vinicius Aulicino November 23, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    After being taxed the first thing they thought was to kill each other, there was no attempt at negotiation, because I believe it would not be very difficult to convince the government to adopt a more viable tax, after all the main interest is to earn money, and in this equation
    > pop. = > $ and < pop = < $.

  • Reply Oliver Cant November 23, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    When you realise Battle Royale ACTUALLY HAPPENED ?

  • Reply ოeep Meep November 23, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    I can't find anything about this online… is this made up?

  • Reply A Wallach November 23, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Sounds like the beta version of The Lottery. ???

  • Reply Cynon November 23, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Weird way to announce a pregnancy.

  • Reply Nic Jansen November 23, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    1:07 "Everything changed when the fire nation attacked."

    If you think about it, 'the fire nation' is a lot like real world Japan in a sense, so I guess it'd be a good metaphor…
    Was the actual wording in this video meant to sound like that famous quote though…?

  • Reply Ricin November 23, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    can i get some sources on it? i tried searching it up, but nothing pertaining to the subject except the video shows up

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