In a rather odd piece of news, the fictional Pokémon character Pikachu has been appointed as an ambassador to promote the Japanese city of Osaka. Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tarō Kōno, made the appointment official in a ceremony earlier this week. Pikachu will work alongside Hello Kitty in this important government role.
Pikachu has been full of surprises recently. Despite having only said his own name across years of anime and video game canon, Pikachu widened his vocabulary significantly in Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You, where the iconic electric mouse poured his heart out to Ash Ketchum with an emotionally-charged monologue. Pikachu will show off another of his little-known skillsets in the upcoming film Detective Pikachu, where he will use his powers of deduction to solve a series of serious crimes.
And now, Pikachu’s real-world political aspirations have been made clear, adding yet another section to the pocket monster’s already-impressive résumé. Tarō Kōno announced that Pikachu and Hello Kitty are undertaking ambassadorial work for the Japanese government via Twitter, sharing an image from a ceremony involving life-sized iterations of these cutesy characters:
I have appointed Pikachu and Hello Kitty as Ambassador to promote the City of Osaka for the 2025 Expo host city. pic.twitter.com/mCkiCl5T5j
— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) November 29, 2017
There is a reason for this odd brace of appointments, with the Japanese government roping in Pikachu and Hello Kitty to support a specific campaign. Osaka wishes to host the 2025 World Expo - which will showcase the achievements of various nations - and these fictional icons have been brought in to bolster the bid. Osaka faces competition from French, Russian, and Azerbaijani cities for the privilege of hosting the event, so you can see why the powers-that-be are leaning on Japanese cultural icons to promote their cause.
However, as weird as this may seem, this isn’t the only time in recent memory that a fictional character has held a real-life political position. DC Comics’ Wonder Woman was appointed as the UN’s Ambassador of Gender Equality late last year, with Gal Gadot and Linda Carter attending the appointment ceremony. Winnie the Pooh has also held an honorary title, acting as an ambassador the International Day of Friendship.
It will be interesting to see if the Japanese government’s decision to employ these iconic creatures as official ambassadors will pay off, with regards to the World Expo. Perhaps, Ash Ketchum's trusty pal does succeed in this new role, Legendary’s next live-action Pokémon movie will be Politician Pikachu.
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Source: Tarō Kōno