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Key Supporting Role

Feb. 8 – Kawasaki – Directors, actors, media and fans filled the streets for the 67th annual Mainichi Film Awards, which celebrates the best of Japanese cinema.

Another rising star? The 100% electric LEAF, which Nissan presented to Isao Natsuyagi, awarded best actor for his role in Kibou no Kuni (The Land of Hope).

In the film, Natsuyagi is a dairy farmer in the fictional Nagashima prefecture, whose life takes a turn when a strong earthquake triggers a nuclear meltdown.


Here, in a scene of particular resonance in Japan, the farmer finds out his home is close to the radioactive exclusion zone.

Natsuyagi said he is the man that he portrayed, while the film’s discussion of energy use is important not only in Japan, but globally.

“We humans need to think about what kind of energy we need to use in order to survive,” said Natsuyagi.

“I think this is very important because we are not the only ones who need to survive. We live today thanks to the environment including all the other animals and plants. That is why it is very important to think about energy because it affects them, too.”

Taking to the stage to accept the best-actor award, Natsuyagi also picked up an intelligent key to his new LEAF.

“I have received an electric vehicle,” said Natsuyagi. “Only the image of a toy car comes to mind when I think of an EV. The car I received has the latest technology and it’s amazing. I am looking forward to trying it out and going for a spin.”

A small fleet of LEAFs chauffeured all the actors around Kawasaki, and Natsuyagi said it’s different than the cars he’s used to.

“It is the first time for me to ride in a LEAF. It was so quiet,” he said.

“I have a Citroen DS21, a French car and also a Volvo. Both of them make quite a bit of noise. Bom-Bom-Bom, like that. For me, this car, which does not emit smoke and is impossible to know if I turned the key or not, is a mystery.”

Natsuyagi said he already knows his first destination.

“First, I want to drive along the coastline as I look at the ocean.”

Hearing the clear sound of waves, he says, would be a good fit for his quiet – and zero-emission – prize.

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