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Japan's iconic black bear Kumamon to become YouTuber

In this Jan. 4, 2018 photo, Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima, right, announces Kumamon's "journey" abroad at a press conference at the prefectural government building in Kumamoto's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi)

KUMAMOTO, Japan (Kyodo) -- Kumamon, the black bear mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, will make its debut on YouTube next month, sharing online its experiences of sports, arts and crafts in multiple languages, the local government said Wednesday.

Starting Sept. 3, a 2-minute video featuring the official mascot of the southwestern Japan prefecture will be uploaded onto its YouTube account every Monday. People can watch the videos also on Kumamon's official website.

The videos will have English subtitles, and versions with French, German, Chinese and Korean subtitles will also be available later, according to the prefectural government.

The first episode will be about Kumamon being ordered by Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima to become a YouTuber. The prefectural government said it plans to release some 40 Kumamon videos in total.

"We hope to make Kumamon a character that is loved by people around the world," Kabashima said.

Kumamoto was hit by deadly earthquakes in April 2016, and Kumamon has been helping reconstruction efforts, allowing local businesses to use the image of the mascot free of charge upon approval by the government.

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