v AFP / Behrouz MEHRI
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The forest, known as Aokigahara, made global headlines last year when YouTube star Logan Paul filmed an episode of his online series there, showing a suicide victim at the site.The footage sparked outrage and infuriated Watanabe, who was born nearby and has spent most of his life in and around the forest.The association eventually became strong enough that suicidal people began traveling to the forest to die.Authorities no longer give official figures for suicides in the forest, but at one time dozens of people were dying there each year.The suicide rate in Yamanashi prefecture, where the forest is located, was the worst in Japan for eight years until 2014 .In recent years, local residents say, the number of victims appeared to be on the decline, with some hoping the forest might finally shed its malign image.Paul's footage was not the only factor -- a steady stream of sometimes sensationalist news reports, and a 2015 film about two men coming to the forest to kill themselves -- have cemented the place's morbid reputation in recent years.
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