IMMEDIATE RELEASE… New York, NY…April 29, 2006 … The International Pop Music Icon Puffy or Puffy Ami and Yumi, has been named Japan’s Goodwill Tourism Ambassador by the Visit Japan Campaign. This “dynamic duo” stepped onto the American youth culture scene in November 2004, when they were reborn as animated characters on cable television. The two women, who have been a prominent pop fixture in Japan since 1996, are recognized nationally among America’s youth mostly for their Hi-Hi Puffy Ami-Yumi show on the Cartoon Network. However, they’ve been known in North American since 2002, when they began touring the continent (26 cities) in conjunction with their USA-Canada album release also called Hi-Hi Puffy Ami-Yumi. And, now, they even have their own Gameboy Advanced videogame: Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi: Kaznapped.
At the same time, select alumni of the JET Program - the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program - have been designated as Special Representative for Visit Japan Campaign. The JET Program - sponsored by multiple branches of the Japanese government was launched in 1987, with the cooperation of the government of the United States and other participating countries. JET program participants enhance internationalization in Japan by promoting mutual understanding between Japan and their home nations, in our case, the United States. USA JET participants achieve this goal by enhancing English language education in Japan, and promoting grass roots international and intercultural exchange. The program now has 19,700 alumni, 6,600 of them from the United States, and 1000 of those alumni are from New York. By appointing select JET alumni as Special Representative for Visit Japan Campaign, the Japanese government intends to further its efforts to introduce Japan to the world, not only the traditional culture and latest technological advances, but more of the social and cultural aspects of Today’s Japan.
Over the last Century, Japan has been recognized as an economic powerhouse. However, today’s younger Americans identify Japan’s Pop Culture with the country itself. Through its cutting edge cell phones, cameras, and video games; its cartoon cute anime, and its futuristic fashion, Japan has become the world leader in “state-of-the-art everything.” Notes Mr. Hisataka Hiragochi, the Executive Director of the Japan National Tourist Organization’s New York Office, “To those under 30, J-Pop is iconic.”
The JET alumni will draw upon their Japan JET experiences as they continue to bridge the intercultural and social gaps, particularly for American youth, who today also have tremendous impact on the decision making of their parents. The JET alumni will work in tandem with PUFFY to promote Cool Japan throughout the United States.
Ami and Yumi made a stellar live appearance performing on their own float at the 2005 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down New York’s Fifth Avenue. This marked the first time any Japanese artist had taken part in this spectacle. The duo’s next live extravaganza will send the crowds cheering at New York’s Yankee Stadium. On July 17, 2006 they will throw the first pitch at the Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners game. This will be yet another Japanese star appearance on the US baseball scene since the championship game of the World Baseball Classic!
For more information on PUFFY visit: www.puffyamiyumi.com/
For more information on the JET Program visit: www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/JETProgram/contact.html
For more information on the Japan National Tourist Organization visit: www.japantravelinfo.com
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