Comic on 440-km Tohoku marathon

Kyodo

Comedian Kampei Hazama began a nine-day marathon Monday across northeastern Japan to cheer up disaster-stricken residents.

“I will run to bring back smiles to your faces, so root for me,” said the 63-year-old entertainer, who started the 440-km journey in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture. He plans to run through Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures as well.

Hazama says he wants the public to keep the victims of the disaster in their hearts by raising awareness. He himself was hit by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, which claimed thousands of lives in western Japan and damaged his house. Hazama is known as a seasoned runner, who last year completed a 25-month run-and-sail marathon around the world.