- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TOKYO (AP) - “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” and the U.N. are rhyming.

Japanese comedian Pikotaro has adapted his catchy song to promote the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The original went viral last year after pop star Justin Bieber tweeted that it was his favorite video.

Pikotaro, in his trademark leopard-lizard design outfit, was a bit reserved at an appearance Wednesday alongside the more conservatively dressed Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

The PPAP star beamed at the invitation to accompany the diplomat to New York and pledged to do his utmost for the awareness campaign. They’ll debut the U.N. version, “SDGs,” on Monday.

At first, Pikotaro seemed unconvinced. “Do you mean the U.N., one that is in New York? Me? Are you sure?” he asks half-jokingly. Kishida reassured him that it is a Japan-hosted reception at the U.N. headquarters where he will be performing.

The U.N. action plan sets goals in fighting poverty, climate change and other global challenges. Kishida says he needs to boost awareness for the project in which every citizen needs to help. “Pikotaro-san’s popularity would be extremely effective to boost public recognition,” Kishida told him.

Pikotaro says it would be a challenge to achieve all the goals, but he is happy to accept the Foreign Ministry’s appointment to the promotional role and to help by doing what he does best. “Something easy that encourages people to watch and follow example.”

He also gave Kishida a brief posing lesson, demonstrating hand gestures showing 17 development project areas as the minister struggled to copy Pikotaro.

There was no dancing lesson, however. In the PPAP song, Pikotaro mimics stabbing a pen into an apple and a pineapple while singing simple English lyrics and dancing to a catchy beat.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work on APNews at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi

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