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The cartoon character Hello Kitty will be appointed Japan’s goodwill tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong, according to government officials.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry is to make the appointment Monday, marking the first time a cartoon character has become a goodwill ambassador under the government’s campaign launched in 2003 to promote tourism to Japan.

With the “Yokoso Japan” campaign, the government hopes to attract 10 million foreign tourists annually by 2010. In 2007, the total was 8.35 million, according to the Japan National Tourist Organization.

To help achieve its goal, the ministry has appointed 11 people as goodwill tourism ambassadors so far. Hello Kitty qualified for the job due to her popularity among Chinese people, the officials said.

A Hello Kitty blog will begin around late June on the Chinese-language page of the tourism campaign’s Web site to introduce tourist attractions in Japan, including historic and popular sites.

The page will also provide news about shopping and dining.

Hello Kitty, Sanrio Co.’s mainstay cartoon character launched in 1974, has become widely popular with 50,000 types of related products sold annually in some 60 nations.

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