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TOKYO (Reuters) - Pop superstar Lady Gaga, in Japan for a charity concert, Thursday praised the country for its beauty and encouraged visitors, whose numbers have dropped in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, to return.
Lady Gaga has been active in fundraising for victims of the March 11 disasters, contributing a song to a charity album and a message for a fund-raising T-shirt that goes on sale later this week.
"I would like to use my position here today and all week long to run around Tokyo and enjoy the beautiful city, and kiss all the beautiful little monsters and scream at the top of my lungs that everyone should visit this beautiful place," she told a news conference in Tokyo.
Dressed in black, she sipped from a cup reading "Prayers for Japan" in Japanese. The cup will be put up for auction and the proceeds given to charity.
Officials thanked the star for her support, presenting her with a letter of gratitude from the Japanese government. At one point, she brushed away a tear.
Hiroshi Mizohata, head of the Japan Tourism Agency, gave her a small papier mache doll that is weighted at its bottom so it doesn't fall down and symbolizes perseverance and courage.
"Never give up, finally stand up. This is a Japanese traditional doll for you. This is Fukushima," said an excited Mizohata, noting that the doll came from Fukushima prefecture, site of the crippled nuclear plant at the center of the crisis.
Lady Gaga responded with a kiss on his cheek.
"I am happy," he said.
There is speculation that Lady Gaga will visit the devastated northeastern region after her MTV charity concert on Saturday, but she steered clear of concrete promises.
Reporting by Craig Aramaki; editing by Elaine Lies