• Kyodo

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More than 50 Japanese ruling and opposition politicians formed a group Wednesday to boost the popularity of older types of Japanese popular music mostly ignored by young people.

“Let’s think together what we can do to give a boost and revitalize the world of enka and kayōkyoku,” said Toshihiro Nikai, chairman of the General Council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who assumed the post of chairman of the nonpartisan group of lawmakers.

Enka is a type of ballad music often favored by older people while kayōkyoku is how the Japanese popular music excluding enka was known before the advent of the more Westernized and sophisticated J-pop in the early 1990s, referring to more traditional genres of popular music.

In addition to the LDP’s Nikai, 77, big shots from other parties also joined the initiative. They included Yoshiaki Takaki, 70, the Diet affairs chief of the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Yoshio Urushibara, 71, the central secretariat chief of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito party, and Keiji Kokuta, 69, the Diet affairs chief of the Japanese Communist Party.

Three renowned enka singers attended the inaugural meeting of the lawmakers’ group at the Diet building. They are Ryotaro Sugi, Eiko Segawa and Joji Yamamoto. TV personality Korokke, who often does impersonation of famous enka singers, also joined.

“It may be a small number of people who like enka and kayōkyoku, but we must keep singing and make more efforts. The launch of the lawmakers’ group, to me, is one of the best things that have ever happened,” Segawa said in the meeting.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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