Fukushima to use rare Pokemon to lure tourists back

Officials sit behind a table at a press conference, behind them stand four colourful mascots.
There were smiles and laughter when officials made the announcement, flanked by local mascots. Source: You Tube, The Page

Japan is planning to use Pokemon Go to lure tourists back to its quake hit regions, including in the radiation affected prefecture of Fukushima.

Officials for four prefectures in Japan have announced they are partnering with the Japanese subsidiary of Niantic, the US company behind the Pokemon Go game.

They hope that creating virtual attractions in the popular location-based game will help draw people back to the natural disaster affected areas.

Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are located in the north of the country and were heavily impacted by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Kumamoto, located in southern Japan, suffered a series of earthquakes in April this year.

The game is already live in Japan, but players would find extra goodies in the four prefectures under the plan.

Game-makers will add more PokeStops - places where treasured items can be found, and more Pokemon Gyms – locations where people can meet and send their captured monsters into battle. 

Officials say they will also place more rare Pokemon in the areas for players to hunt.

Tourism promotions say that less than 10 per cent  of Fukushima is affected by radiation exclusion zones, insisting that other areas are safe to visit.

Officials in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima have also been planning ‘recovery tours’ in which guides take visitors to sites affected by the disasters. 

But there are limits. 

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, TEPCO, reportedly had to request game developers to prevent Pokemon from spawning in radiation affected areas of Fukushima, to avoid drawing players into hazardous areas. 

Nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered meltdowns as a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and TEPCO says they recently found Pokemon at the site.