Haruki Murakami, one of Japan's most acclaimed novelists, will host a radio special to try to lift the nation's spirits as a state of emergency over the novel coronavirus lingers.
Murakami, whose breakout novel "Norwegian Wood" debuted in 1987, will play favourite songs and welcome listener comments during a "Stay Home Special," the name evoking a plea from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike for residents to avoid going out.
"I'm hoping that the power of music can do a little to blow away some of the corona-related blues that have been piling up," Murakami wrote on a web page promoting the special.
While a nationwide state of emergency is due to last until May 31, officials said some regions may be able to lift restrictions as early as this week if infections are under control. Tokyo, the epicentre of Japan's outbreak, confirmed 15 new cases on Monday, the first time in 42 days that the daily number has fallen below 20.
Murakami, a perennial favourite for the Nobel Prize in Literature, is a notorious recluse but has hosted his Murakami Radio show every couple months. As a teenager he developed a passion for jazz and spoke of writing to its beat. He and his wife, Yoko, opened a jazz club while still university students and ran it for seven years.
The Murakami Radio Stay Home Special will play on Tokyo FM 80.0 and 38 stations nationwide on May 22 from 10 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. (1300-1455 GMT).