Giant Japanese robot spurs hopes for tourism after virus hit


TOKYO (Reuters) - An 18-metre (60-foot) "Gundam" robot that can walk and move its arms was unveiled in Japan on Monday amid hopes that it will help invigorate tourism hit by COVID-19.

The robot is modelled after a figure in "Mobile Suit Gundam", a Japanese cartoon first launched in the late 1970s about enormous battle robots piloted by humans. The series spawned multiple spin-offs and toys and gained a worldwide following.

It will be the centrepiece of the Gundam Factory Yokohama, a tourist attraction that opens on Dec. 19 in the port city.

"I hope this will lead to stimulating tourism demand and revitalising local areas," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

"Of course, we now have the coronavirus issue. I want people to tackle endeavours like this while making an effort to prevent the spread of infection."

(Reporting by Hideto Sakai, writing by Kiyoshi Takenaka, editing by Giles Elgood)

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