National

Japan's disaster-hit regions look to 'Pokemon Go' to draw tourists

Kyodo

Four disaster-hit prefectures are counting on the frenzy sparked by “Pokemon Go” to draw more tourists.

Officials from Kumamoto, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures said Wednesday they will use the popular augmented-reality game to encourage more people to visit and thereby spur reconstruction.

The four prefectures plan to work out details with the Japanese unit of U.S. game developer Niantic Inc.

They hope that tourist destinations in their regions will serve as “Pokestops,” where players collect items, as well as “gyms,” where they battle their Pokemon characters.

“I hope young people will have the opportunity to understand the reality facing the disaster-hit prefectures,” Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai told reporters.

“Pokemon Go” entices players to hunt down Pokemon superimposed on real sites, in a system that uses GPS to determine players’ locations.

Murai contacted the developer over potential collaboration.

Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso expressed hope that domestic and foreign tourists will visit coastal areas that were damaged by the tsunami.

Since the game was released in July, Japanese fans have downloaded it in large numbers, braving the scorching summer heat outdoors to play.

But “Pokemon Go” has also led the government to issue safety warnings amid concerns about injuries and accidents among fixated players.

Separately, the Tottori Prefectural Government is trying to capitalize on the game as a way to rejuvenate the local economy.

It is encouraging players to visit the Tottori Sand Dunes, touting the site as a “safe place” to enjoy the game.

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