Godzilla unveiled in Tokyo's Shinjuku

Godzilla unveiled in Tokyo's Shinjuku

TOKYO - Godzilla has stomped so many buildings in Japan that the irradiated monster was appointed special resident and tourism ambassador for Tokyo's Shinjuku ward.

A Godzilla-size head towering 52-meters (171 feet) above ground level was unveiled Thursday at an office of Toho, the Japanese studio behind the 1954 original. Toho is shooting a comeback film this year after a decade-long hiatus.

Godzilla's standing as an icon has had its ups and downs, but its stature has been reinstated after the Hollywood "Godzilla," directed by Gareth Edwards, became a global hit last year.

Japan is hoping the biggest star in this nation's movie history will help lure tourists during a market-opening strategy launched by the prime minister.

At an awards ceremony next to the giant Godzilla head, an actor in a rubber suit waddled to Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi. However, Toho executive Minami Ichikawa had to accept the residency certificate in Godzilla's place, since the suit's claws aren't designed to grab anything.

The longtime belief is that any place Godzilla destructs in the movies is sure to prosper in real life, Yoshizumi said.

"Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan," he said.

Hiroshi Ohnishi, chief executive of the Isetan-Mitsukoshi department store chain, who heads the area's tourism promotion, kept referring to Godzilla with the very polite honorific "sama" - used at the end of a name - underlining respect for the creature as a business-drawing landmark for the region.

Shinjuku, known for its down-home bars and noodle restaurants, has not been spared, flattened in three Toho movies. If Godzilla chooses to return, it can now stomp on its own giant head. But Ichikawa told reporters where it will show up was still undecided.

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