Pop duo Kobukuro (photo left) and musician couple Imai Miki (47, right) and Hotei Tomoyasu (48, center) have made a cash donation of more than ¥10 million to Miyazaki Prefecture, it was announced yesterday. The artists collaborated on the song “Taiyo no Melody” and donated earnings to support people in the prefecture who suffered financial damage due to this year’s outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the local cattle population. Imai, a former idol singer who is married to former Boowy guitarist Hotei, is a native of the Miyazaki town of Takanabe, while Kobukuro’s Kobuchi Kentaro (33) hails from Miyazaki City.
April’s foot-and-mouth outbreak, the worst the country has ever seen, made national headlines and was a major blow for Miyazaki’s meat industry and the economy of the region. The prefecture’s popular governor Higashikokubaru Hideo declared a state of emergency, asking people living in the affected and surrounding areas to refrain from going out unless absolutely necessary. Hundreds of thousands of livestock were killed by the disease or slaughtered in containing it.