• Kyodo

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Kyushu-based Solaseed Air Inc. on Tuesday started bearing the Kumamon mascot on some of its aircraft to boost support for the area affected by a series of earthquakes in April.

The first airplane featuring Kumamon, the popular black bear mascot from Kumamoto Prefecture, left Tokyo’s Haneda airport for Kumamoto in the morning with 111 people on board.

“I want people to look at how Kumamoto is rebuilding and have as many visitors as possible there,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, president of Solaseed Air, based in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The aircraft has been named “Ganbaruken! Kumamon Go” (“We’ll do our best! Go Kumamon”), to show that Kumamoto is on its way to recovery.

“I hope Kumamoto will regain its strength once again,” said a 39-year-old woman from Chofu, west Tokyo, traveling with her husband and three children. “My children were happy to see Kumamon, too.”

In the plane, all cabin attendants wore aprons featuring Kumamon. The carrier said its planes will also feature magazines containing information about Kumamoto Prefecture.

The Kumamon aircraft will fly for the next two to three years on all 10 routes operated by Solaseed Air, which connects Kyushu and Okinawa with major cities in Japan.

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