Miyazaki governor delivers PR bonus

TV appearances help prefecture's poultry farms

TOKYO — Hideo Higashikokubaru, governor of Miyazaki Prefecture and a former comedian, told reporters Monday that his recent TV appearances were worth ¥15.5 billion ($137.5 million) to the prefecture in free publicity.

Higashikokubaru was shown on 182 TV programs in his first week after taking office on Jan. 23, mostly chomping on chicken raised in Miyazaki, whose poultry farms have been hit by repeated outbreaks of bird flu. The comedian claimed his one-man PR campaign to salvage the prefecture’s reputation for safe processed poultry was equivalent to $137.5 million in paid ads. Higashikokubaru modestly added that his “personal involvement” to the damage control campaign was a factor in its success.

Prior to his election as governor of Miyazaki, a prefecture on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, Higashikokubaru was a comic apprentice to Takeshi Kitano, appearing frequently on Kitano’s shows, including the internationally distribbed “Takeshi’s Castle.”

Better known in Japan by his stage name of Sonomama Higashi, the comedian stirred up media waves by entering elite Waseda U.’s School of Letters, Arts and Sciences evening course in 2000 at a comparatively crusty 42. He subsequently entered Waseda’s School of Political Science and Economics, but did not graduate.

A dedicated marathoner and handball player, Higashikokubaru has published a self-help book titled “How to Reach the Peak of Life at 60.” He has also appeared in several pics, including Kitano’s 1995 comedy “Getting Any?”

Higashikokubaru was elected Miyazaki governor on Jan. 21 after positioning himself as a reformer who would work for the people, while disdaining the usual trappings of office. He benefited from a wave of local revulsion over the corrupt shenanigans of former Gov. Tadahiro Ando, who was arrested on rigging charges December and resigned from office.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading