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This week’s featured article

TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER

More and more YouTubers in Japan are using their fame to raise awareness of social distancing and the hashtag #stayhome to help officials drive home the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic to its youth, a demographic seen as prone to complacency.

At the heart of this campaign is Hikaru Kaihatsu, aka Hikakin, one of the nation’s most popular YouTube personalities. He collaborated with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on a video released Friday in which he discussed the importance of social distancing.

The video, which as of Saturday evening had more than 7 million views, showed the internet star with more than 8 million subscribers interviewing Koike by video chat about the capital’s current status regarding the pandemic.

In her response, Koike warned Hikakin that the young are just as susceptible to catching the virus as the elderly, noting that out of the nearly 1,200 confirmed COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, 58 percent were between their teens and their 40s. Tokyo has seen four young people fall seriously ill so far, she added.

“What can YouTubers like myself and influencers do under the current situation?” Hikakin asks toward the end of the interview. Koike tells him to highlight the hashtag #stayhome and encourage his viewers to study, chat with friends and drink online.

After wrapping up his interview with the governor, Hikakin dutifully follows her advice by urging his fellow YouTubers to raise awareness of #stayhome, telling his audience to “stand two meters away” from those around them if they have to go out.

Apparently mindful of Hikakin’s predominantly young fan base, Koike sought to project an image strikingly different from her serious, anchorwoman-like tone in news conferences by dumbing down her language and holding a gentle smile throughout the interview.

Her efforts apparently paid off, with many of Hikakin’s viewers on YouTube lauding her for displaying a “motherly” side and an affable demeanor.

“Her message on YouTube is far more understandable than on the news,” one viewer posted in the comments section.

Article first published in The Japan Times on April 11.

Warm up

One minute chat about YouTube.

Game

Collect words related to young people:

e.g., active, student, social media, etc.

New words

1) prone: to have a tendency toward a certain act, e.g., “He’s prone to get angry.”

2) complacency: self-satisfaction derived from a lack of awareness e.g. “The runner’s complacency over his talent led him to lose the race to a younger athlete.”

3) susceptible: easily affected, impressionable e.g., “My sister is susceptible to flattery.”

Guess the headline

Japan YouTubers focus on youth to raise a_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of social d_ _ _ _ _ _ing

Questions

1) What is the movement mentioned in the article about?

2) Who is Hikakin?

3) Did Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike behave differently on YouTube, compared with her news conference?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you think people are aware of social distancing?

2) What do you think about the #stayhome movement?

3) What do you think is needed to make more people aware of social distancing?

Reference

コロナウイルスの感染拡大を止めるために外出の自粛が叫ばれる中、若い人たちに意識を変えてもらうよう訴えるべく、るためYouTubeなどで若者に人気のインフルエンサーが動き出し始めました。政治家の言葉ではなく自分たちの身近な存在である人からのメッセージは、視聴者の意識や行動を変えるきっかけとなるのでしょうか。また、より多くの人の意識を変えるためにどのような取り組みが考えられるのでしょうか。

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