Hello, Ambassador Kitty: Hello Kitty, Japanese official ambassador for tourism

Following the appointment of Doraemon as the Japanese official ambassador for anime, Hello Kitty has been appointed the Japanese official ambassador for tourism to China and Hong Kong by the Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tetsuzo Fuyushiba. Her duties include blogging — but likely not policing counterfeit goods.

The idea of fictional characters as official cultural envoys seems like a joke to some; this Mirror article jokingly suggests “Bob the Builder … as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform” in the UK.

So what does Sanrio get out of this new role for its cute overload intellectual property? One of the oddly interesting elements about Hello Kitty is that there isn’t a starting product; she is a brand of kitty cuteness, the epitome of kawaii. Sanrio has recently tried to branch out from its traditional fan / consumer base by having a super-expensive line of jewelery, launching the beta of the Hello Kitty Online MMORPG, and starting a Hello Kitty clothes line for men in Japan (they are super cute — and while they are for dudes, pink abounds).

When your product is already a worldwide ambassador for conspicuous cuteness consumerism, making it official and government-approved seems like a great idea.

While the AP story wonders how often Hello Kitty visits Japan from her official bio home in London, inquiring minds want to know what Mimi thinks about all of this.

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[…] First, the gender issue — lolcats are based on cute pictures and it is socially more acceptable for women and girls to be involved with cute things. One such example is the Japanese penchant for all things cute, called kawaii, like Hello Kitty. […]

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