Japanese singer-actor Masaharu Fukuyama has been chosen as the nation’s goodwill tourism ambassador in Japan, the Tourism Bureau announced yesterday.
The bureau made the announcement at Fukuyama’s press conference in Taipei to promote his first concert in Taiwan in June.
The 45-year-old Japanese began his singing career in 1990. He has composed many popular hits and is considered Japan’s top male singer, having sold 21.27 million records.
As an actor, Fukuyama is also known for playing the lead in the Japanese TV series Galileo and Ryomaden. He was recently voted by Japan’s Oricon Chart as one of the top 10 men that a Japanese woman “would most want to be hugged by.”
The Japanese star accepted the appointment as tourism ambassador from bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu (劉喜臨) at the press conference.
Liu said the bureau first contacted Fukuyama before the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.
“He [Fukuyama] was deeply impressed by the compassion that Taiwanese showed during the disaster relief efforts. He also found many interesting places to visit in Taiwan,” Liu said.
Fukuyama’s concert will become part of a campaign to promote Taiwan as a tourist destination, Liu said, adding that the bureau will publish tourism cards featuring Fukuyama.
The bureau is also considering inviting Fukuyama to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Greater Taichung next year.
Hollywood actor Rob Schneider was the guest of honor at this year’s festival in Nantou.
Prior to Fukuyama’s appointment, other Japanese celebrities who had served as the nation’s goodwill tourism ambassadors in Japan include enka singer Sachiko Kobayashi, comedian Atsushi Tamura and the girl group AKB48.
According to the Tourism Bureau, about 1.42 million Japanese tourists visited the nation last year.
Liu said the bureau had selected different types of goodwill ambassadors to attract Japanese visitors of different age groups.
“In the past, we targeted young, white-collar tourists, so we had Show Little Pig Luo (羅志祥) and Taiwanese boy band ‘Fahrenheit (飛輪海),’” Liu said.
“Later on, we had Sachiko Kobayashi, Taiwanese model Lin Chi-ling (林志玲) and Taiwanese baseball player Yang Dai-kang (陽岱鋼)” to represent the nation, he said.