Japan has a mascot problem.
Sure, the country’s sported adorable characters for everything from the police to construction sites for, well, centuries, some would argue, but the latest trend is local governments creating mascots to represent their town. Called yuru-kyara, these mascots are supposed to generate interest in towns’ local traditions, food, etc.
Thing is, they don’t work.
That’s according to a report out from Japan’s Ministry of Finance, who put their top men on the case to find out what the effectiveness of these PR mascots actually was. Their finding: they’re basically a waste of money.
While there are some success stories, like Kumamoto’s Kumamon, most municipalities seem to have plunged headfirst into the yuru-kyara boom with no real reason or plan. Among the most egregious of the ministry’s finds was a mascot that cost about $14,000 and was used for a total of five days.
The Ministry of Finance is recommending local municipalities to take a good hard look at their mascot expenditures from here on out. As long as they don’t take away my Namisuke, man. He’s too cute.