Local News

Fukuoka’s Kawaii-Ku (Cute Ward) To Be Discontinued

Kawaii-ku (Cute Ward), the virtual ward that Fukuoka City established in August 2012 to promote itself online, appears headed to the digital scrap heap. The unique initiative turned heads throughout Japan by tapping Mariko Shinoda of idol group AKB48 as its first “Mayor”. Users who registered online as “residents” of Kawaii-ku could opt in to a mailing list and purchase special resident certificates. The virtual ward also teamed up with local businesses on a range of promotions. In total, City Hall spent ¥33 million on the initiative through the end of fiscal 2014. Shinoda stepped down as “Mayor” after some residents complained that the Ward’s focus on “kawaii” promoted gender discrimination. (Popular Canadian blogger Micaela Braithwaite is currently serving as the second “Mayor”.) The Ward attracted 41,000 virtual residents by the end of fiscal 2012 but that number remains almost unchanged as of February 2015. Media exposure has fallen off, and some have questioned the wisdom of keeping the Ward alive. “When an initiative’s selling point is its novelty, that novelty is bound to wear off over time,” remarked the city hall employee in charge of Kawaii-ku. Source: Yahoo Japan News 2/19

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Published: Feb 19, 2015 / Last Updated: Apr 1, 2016

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