Ken Hirai somberly expressed solidarity with fellow Japanese suffering from the March earthquake and tsunami as he promoted his new album in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Dressed in a tweed-patterned three-piece suit and sporting a spiky blonde hairdo, the 39-year-old pop star performed two songs from his new record and his hit "Gently Close Your Eyes" at a suburban Hong Kong mall late Thursday. Fans besieged the ground floor area where Hirai performed and others peeked down from higher floors.
After the brief set, Hirai quickly turned to Japan's recent natural disaster. He had been wrapping up his new release, "Japanese Singer," when the twin disasters struck.
"We shouldn't give up. This is a very tough time for Japan. I hope we can get through this situation soon and see a better day," said Hirai, whose hometown of Higashiosaka was not affected.
He added that he intended the 13th and last track on the album, whose title translates as "Together," as a message of encouragement to his fellow countrymen and countrywomen.
Hirai said the title of the album, his first in three years, derived from his national pride and reminded him to represent his country honorably.
"I love Japan a lot. I hope I can do my best as a Japanese singer and not disgrace Japan," he said.
With eight albums to his credit, Hirai has sold more than 8 million records over a 16-year career.