The Japan Coast Guard confirmed a report from U.S. military magazine Stars and Stripes from earlier in the week that Yu-Gi-Oh! manga creator Kazuki Takahashi (whose real name is Kazuo Takahashi) died “a hero” after aiding Major Robert Bourgeau in the rescue of a family that was caught in a rip current off the coast of Mermaid’s Grotto in Onna, Okinawa on July 4.
According to the initial report, on October 11, Bourgeau, who is also a scuba diving instructor, and a student of his were beckoned by a Japanese woman to help her family, a U.S. soldier and their 11-year-old daughter, who were caught in a rip current. Bourgeau explained that at some point during the rescue, Takahashi joined the pair. Though Bourgeau didn’t see the man, his students who were on the beach did.
Bourgeau said “the conditions were really, really rough” and nearly drowned himself. He was awarded the Soldier’s Medal by the U.S. Army for saving the family.
The Japan Coast Guard declined to comment on the Stars and Stripes story, instead launching an investigation into the story and concluding today that the report lines up with what the Japan Coast Guard discovered, announcing the news to Japanese media.
Originally, the Nago City Coast Guard had said that Takahashi had been snorkeling alone near Onna Village, close to Mermaid’s Grotto, and this is where he had drowned and was found on a beach 300 meters away off the coast of Nago City on July 7.
Takahashi winning the Inkpot award at Comic-Con International in 2015 (image via Comic-Con)
The coast guard now reports that “Mr. Takahashi entered the water to rescue the girl, and then disappeared. It was determined to have been an accident at sea.” The coast guard also explained that they were aware of the incident with the family in July but “refrained from publicizing the details of the incident” in consideration of the girl’s well-being.
Bourgeau told Stars and Stripes that Takahashi was “a hero. He died trying to save someone else.”
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.