Japanese jazz pianist Yasuhiro Kono set off Monday for Eritrea to give concerts using seven pianos he recently collected and donated to the war-stricken African country.

Kono, 47, plans to stay in Eritrea until May 2 and will visit camps housing refugees from the border conflict that raged between Eritrea and Ethiopia from May 1998 until last June.

Kono, a resident of Tokyo, said he began the piano donation project in an effort to put good pianos to use that had sat inactive in people’s homes.

So far, he has collected and donated 73 pianos to seven countries, including South Africa and China, and raised the money needed for transporting the instruments by performing more than 300 concerts annually.

Katsuko Clarke, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea William Clarke and an active campaigner for promoting exchanges between Eritrea and Japan, has played a big part in working out the details for the Eritrea project, Kono said.

Japan has no embassy in Eritrea.

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