Sukagawa's two "Tsuburaya" natives to be made honorary citizens

Kokichi Tsuburaya running on his way to bronze in 1964 Tokyo Olympic marathon

The Fukushima Prefecture city of Sukagawa announced on Feb. 15 a plan to propose making two of its native sons with the same family name honorary citizens -- movie director Eiji Tsuburaya (1901-1970), the creator of the Ultraman and Godzilla series which later led him to be called "the god of special effects," and Kokichi Tsuburaya (1940-1968), bronze medalist in the men's marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. The city hopes to draw attention to the two Tsuburayas once again to help maintain the legacy of their achievements and allow it to be handed down to future generations. It will set aside 69.5 million yen for a project honoring them as part of its initial general account budget for fiscal 2021 beginning April 1. In the 1955 film "Godzilla Raids Again," Eiji Tsuburaya acted as special effects director, the first role of the kind ever played in Japan's film industry. He set up Tsuburaya Productions Co. in 1963, and his films produced since then laid the groundwork for the special effects of today. Kokichi Tsuburaya entered the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and inaugurated a track and field club with his colleagues while on duty at a garrison in the city of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. He won both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events at the Japan national athletic championships in 1962. At the last Tokyo Olympics, he placed sixth in the 10,000-meter final and won bronze in the marathon. Events planned to honor the two include written acknowledgment of their achievements, the preparation of medals of honorary citizenship, and production of a TV program introducing their accomplishments to a nationwide audience. Also planned are an exhibition marking the 120th anniversary of the birth of Eiji Tsuburaya, and another of Kokichi Tsuburaya's photos to coincide with the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. In unveiling the project, Sukagawa Mayor Katsuya Hashimoto told a news conference at the municipal office that he will propose at a regular assembly session opening on March 18 a total of 52 agenda items, including a municipal general account budget, and submit five reports. Referring to the project, Hashimoto said the two men's achievements are "widely known nationwide and to the world," adding that "we would like them to be honorary citizens and help our city develop further." The initial budget calls for a total expenditure of 34,670 million yen. Main spending items include a scholarship-funding program worth 9.61 million yen and a 24.64 million yen scheme for the operation of a facility to be set up within the premises of a public hospital to accept local outpatients in the city's battle against the coronavirus pandemic. (Translated by Kyodo News)