Japan quake regions use Pokemon Go to revive tourism

Officials at the press conference with the mascots standing behind them Image copyright YouTube/The Page
Image caption Officials announced the plans at a press conference, flanked by their cuddly local mascots

Four earthquake-damaged prefectures in Japan plan to use Pokemon Go to entice visitors back to their attractions.

The neighbouring prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, and Kumamoto in the country's south, are joining forces to get more features from the popular augmented-reality game in their areas, the Kyodo news agency reports.

Officials are working with the game's developer to host more Pokestops - virtual markers where players pick up supplies - and "gyms", where Pokemon teams battle it out for supremacy. They also want rare Pokemon characters to appear in the prefectures, Nikkei Asian Review reports.

Officials are hoping that more visitors will help to boost reconstruction efforts. Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai says tapping into the Pokemon Go craze will help young people "to understand the reality facing the disaster-hit prefectures".

The damage caused by Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and two powerful quakes in April, has led to a tourist slump in some areas. In Kumamoto, a landslide put a railway line out of action for more than three months this year, causing visitor numbers to fall by 80% along the line, Jiji Press reported.

While people are being encouraged to explore the four prefectures in search of Pokemon characters, some areas are off-limits - including Fukushima's crippled nuclear power plant. Last month, officials warned players not to wander onto the site after at least one Pokemon character was spotted there.

Next story: Smelly stoat gland surprise for New Zealand thieves

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.

Related Topics