Teaming Up with Sazae-san, Main Character in World’s Longest-running Cartoon Show, to Promote the Ocean and Japan Project [2022/04/25]
Appointing Sazae-san (right), the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation at a press conference on March 22, 2022.
The Nippon Foundation and Fuji Television Network Inc. have agreed to collaborate to feature Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, in promoting the foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project).
The project, launched in 2017, aims to renew the bonds between Japanese people, especially children and young people, with the ocean, and to pass on clean and beautiful oceans to the next generation.
Aired every Sunday by Fuji TV since 1969, the “Sazae-san” show features the everyday ups and downs of suburban Japanese housewife Ms. Sazae Isono and her extended family, and was acknowledged by Guinness World Records in 2013 as the longest-running animated series. Sazae-san is a household name among Japanese of all ages.
The joint undertaking with Sazae-san announced at a press conference on March 22 consists of the following three pillars.
1) For six months starting on April 3, the opening animation of the weekly Sazae-san show features sea resorts and scenic spots all over Japan.
2) Fuji TV’s 27-station national network will broadcast a special program possibly in mid-September in which Sazae-san and her family will help viewers unravel questions regarding the ocean.
3) Sazae-san will join a series of events to be held all over Japan under the Ocean and Japan Project to give participants, especially children, easy-to-understand lectures on ocean-related issues. Under the project, the foundation sponsors more than 3,500 events, centering on beach cleanup campaigns, in all the 47 prefectures across Japan every year with about 2.5 million people attending.
The collaboration with Sazae-san under the Ocean and Japan Project was first proposed by Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum, which displays art collected by Ms. Machiko Hasegawa, the late author of the Sazae-san manga series.
“I was truly honored and privileged by the offer from Japan’s most recognized fictional character to work with us for raising awareness of ocean issues,” I told the press conference, adding one poll indicated that 97% of Japanese people recognize Sazae-san, probably a much higher figure than those who know the name of our prime minister.
Most of the characters appearing in the Sazae-san series are named after something related to the sea, like Sazae (turban shell), her father Namihei (wave), mother Fune (boat), husband Masuo (trout), brother Katsuo (bonito), and sister Wakame (a brown seaweed native to the coast of Japan).
I went on to say that the “mother ocean”, which covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, is silently crying out, facing serious multi-faceted problems such as rising sea levels due to climate change, acidification, contamination by chemicals, unregulated overfishing and ocean plastic debris.
For 30 years, I have undertaken various initiatives with the belief that there will be no survival for humankind without sustainable environmental conservation of the ocean.
Unfortunately, a survey carried out by the foundation showed that about 40% of children in Japan don’t feel familiar with the ocean and that some 40% of teenagers have never been to the beach.
I sincerely hope that the joint initiative with Sazae-san will help make Japanese, especially children and young people, like the sea and think about what they can do to help address the issues that the ocean faces.
At a press conference on March 22, 2022, to appoint Sazae-san to promote the Ocean and Japan Project. From left, Ms. Nagisa Watanabe, emcee; the author; Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum; Sazae-san; Mr. Ryunosuke Endo, vice chairman of Fuji TV, and Yuichi Kawano, president of Television Nishinippon Corp.
Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, introduces herself as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation.
Sazae-san (far left) and her family.