Amid nuclear crisis, boy band Arashi pitches tourism

Kyodo

Popular Japanese boy band Arashi made a pitch Monday to attract more visitors to the country amid a decline in tourist numbers stemming from the ongoing nuclear crisis triggered by the devastating earthquake and tsunami four months ago.

A film titled “Message from Japan” featuring the five-member pop idol group began airing simultaneously in more than 133 countries and regions, including the outdoor screen at New York City’s Times Square.

Video footage was also broadcast in Seoul and London, and will also be shown at airports and Japanese embassies worldwide in the coming weeks.

“We would like to again issue an appeal through this film that it is safe to travel to Japan,” Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata told a Tokyo news conference launching the broadcast of short messages by Arashi. The group members were appointed last year to be the agency’s ambassadors and are popular at home and abroad, particularly in Asia.

At the same press event, Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said, “The disaster has forced a drastic fall in tourists, but I hope that we can convey to the world that Japan is in top form” through the footage of five tourist spots filmed by the group’s members.

The Arashi members filmed their scenes as a group in Tokyo and individually from Hokkaido and Aomori prefectures to Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures and the city of Kyoto, interacting with locals and introducing cuisine and practices, including the sitting meditation known as “zazen” in Kyoto.