Hello Kitty and Pokémon’s Pikachu have officially been selected by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono to promote Osaka as the ideal city to serve as host to the 2025 World Expo، the Jakarta post reported.
Kono announced the appointment in a tweet، with photos attached.
Occurring every five years، the World Expo is centered around a theme that aims to raise awareness and seek solutions to current global issues، according to Bureau International des Expositions (BIE)، an organization that monitors and regulates World Expos.
“I would like for you to represent Japan and proactively [promote] the attraction of Osaka inside and outside of the country،” the foreign minister said as he handed appointment letters to the characters.
For Hello Kitty، this is not the first honor awarded that is typically reserved for an actual human. Hello Kitty was declared a “UNICEF Special Friend of Children” in 2004، after she raised US$150،000 for female education programs initiated by UNICEF. In 2008، Hello Kitty served as the Japanese Ambassador for Tourism in China and Hong Kong، according to Newsweek.
Pokémon’s Pikachu is no less popular. In 2014، “a Pikachu Illustrator” card sold for an astronomical $54،970. As of March 2014، over 21.5 billion Pokémon trading cards have been shipped to 74 countries، and over 260 million Pokémon video games have been sold worldwide.
In 2016، augmented reality game Pokémon GO (for Android and iOS devices) was released and took netizens by storm. This year saw the release of Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!.
The next World Expo will take place in Dubai from October 20، 2020 to April 10، 2021.