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Tokyo-born director takes home best video Grammy for Childish Gambino's 'This Is America'

Jason Cole, from left, Hiro Murai and Ibra Ake pose in the press room with the award for best music video for Childish Gambino's "This Is America" at the 61st annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES -- Director Hiro Murai, the Tokyo-born son of an established Japanese composer and producer, has won the Best Music Video award at the 61st Grammy Awards here for the "This Is America" clip he directed for rapper Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover.

Murai, whose father Kunihiko composed the immensely popular tune "Tsubasa o Kudasai" (Please Give Me Wings) released in 1971, moved to the U.S. when he was 9, and has since been based in Los Angeles. As well as many music videos, Murai has helmed many episodes of the comedy-drama series "Atlanta," also starring Donald Glover and which won Best Television Series-Musical or Comedy at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

The music video that secured the Grammy on Feb. 10 here attracted attention as it pairs scenes representing social problems in the U.S. such as racism and gun violence with refrains of "This is America. The hip-hop tune also snatched the Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance at America's most prestigious music awards.

According to U.S. media reports, multiple African-American singers declined to conduct customary live performances at the awards ceremony because they considered that hip-hop music was "underestimated." Gambino skipped the ceremony as well.

In recent years, the Grammys have faced criticism over lack of diversity as many of their winners were men in 2018. This year, a particular focus was placed on women: singer Alicia Keys served as the emcee, there were more live performances by women than men, and Michelle Obama -- the wife of the U.S.'s first black president Barack Obama -- gave a speech.

(Japanese original by Hiromi Nagano, Los Angeles Bureau)

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