Japanese cartoon character inspires charity


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15-01-2011 08:26 AM


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ABC Canberra 666


15-01-2011 08:26 AM



15-01-2011 09:01 AM

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2011-01-15 08:26:43

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Japanese cartoon character inspires charity -

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A 1960s cartoon hero known for standing up for underprivileged kids has sparked a spate of gift
giving in Japan. It appears people all over the country have been taking up the cause of Tiger Mask
with anonymous donations to schools and welfare facilities

SHANE MCLEOD: While Australians are digging deep to help out those affected by the Queensland
floods, there's also been a spate of gift giving in Japan, all sparked by a 1960s cartoon hero,
known for standing up for underprivileged kids.

It appears people all over the country have been taking up the cause of "Tiger Mask", with
anonymous donations to schools and welfare facilities.

North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports.

(Sound Tiger Mask cartoon)

MARK WILLACY: He was known as Tiger Mask. In the '60s cartoon and animation series he was an orphan
who grew up to become a professional wrestler, pummelling his opponents in his trademark tiger

Fearing he'd become a villain and a poor role-model for children, Tiger Mask donated his winnings
to the orphanage that cared for him. Now, it appears a fan of the fictional action hero is taking
up his cause and his generosity has sparked a wave of gift giving across Japan.

Anonymous donations to underprivileged children in the name of Tiger Mask have been turning up from
one end of the country to the other. In the latest, $1,200 dollars was left in an envelope at a
shopping mall.

(Tomomi Sakamoto speaking)

"It was a nice surprise that this act of good will happened in our store," says mall manager Tomomi
Sakamoto. "My staff and I will discuss how best to use this money for underprivileged children in
the area," he says.

While money has been left, there have also been anonymous donations of stationery, school supplies,
and toys, along with school knapsacks worth nearly $400 each. Again, all in the name of Tiger Mask.

(Kikuchi Masatoshi speaking)

"We really appreciate these gifts because we are forced to survive on a tight budget," says Kikuchi
Masatoshi, whose children's home in Yokohama received a giant box of school supplies. "People
involved in child welfare have been greatly encouraged by the Tiger Mask donations and we hope
they'll continue," he says.

Child welfare facilities in at least eight Japanese prefectures have now been on the receiving end
of the caped crusader's largesse or at least the generosity of his loyal fans and followers. It's
not unusual in Japan for people to emulate or even imitate their cartoon heroes, or their arch

Last month three teenagers near Tokyo were arrested on 20 counts of theft. They called themselves
Phantom Thief Kid after a fictional character in another Japanese comic series. They stole $8,000
worth of goods. Maybe they need a good thrashing from Tiger Mask.

(Sound Tiger Mask cartoon)

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for Saturday AM.