Japan plans to use Pokemon Go to boost tourism in its disaster-struck regions.
Government officials have partnered with Niantic, the makers of Pokemon Go, in an effort to try and attract tourists back into regions affected by the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in 2011
There are four prefectures proposing to use the game to entice tourists, including the radiation affected Fukushima
Officials from areas affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis are said to be discussing different ways of using the game to attract visitors. Niantic, meanwhile, has agreed to place more rare Pokemon in those areas for players to hunt.
Natural News reports:
Niantic has agreed to highly appealing Pokemon Go attractions in the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were all affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It has also agreed to do the same in Kumamoto prefecture, in the country’s south, which suffered from several large earthquakes in April.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, continues to suffer setbacks in its ongoing efforts to clean up the nuclear disaster. A much-vaunted “ice wall,” designed to keep radioactive groundwater from flowing out of the plant, is supposedly 99 percent complete, yet water flow has barely slowed. And scientists admit that the melted-down reactor cores remain inaccessible, and cleanup of the plant itself may be decades away.
TEPCO objects to Pokemons being placed in radiation zones
Pokemon Go is played by “catching” virtual Pokemons at real-world locations; a player’s phone vibrates when a Pokemon is nearby. A player can throw a “PokeBall” to attempt to capture a Pokemon. Pokemons can then be trained and fight against other players’ Pokemons at special locations called “PokeGyms.”
Under Niantic’s partnership with the four prefectures, game designers will add extra PokeGyms to the areas, as well as PokeStops where players can find valuable game items. Niantic has also agreed to place a higher than usual frequency of rare Pokemons in the four prefectures.
Fukushima tourism promotion officials say that 90 percent of the prefecture lies outside of the radiation exclusion zone, and that visiting these areas is completely safe. But TEPCO recently had to reprimand Niantic for placing Pokemons at the actual site of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The power company has asked Niantic to refrain from placing any Pokemons within the radiation-affected areas of Fukushima.
Play with caution
Radiation poisoning isn’t the only risk unwary players run when playing the global hit game. Unsuspecting users have been known to place themselves in physical danger, in at least one case literally walking off a cliff while searching for Pokemon.
In July, security bloggers warned that the game’s Terms of Service allowed Niantic to access users’ entire Google accounts, including email, calendars, photos and documents. The company claimed that the agreement was unnecessarily broad and would be modified, because the game only needed access to player’s Google profiles, not their entire accounts.