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Cuddly mascots set for the chop in Japan

Published on May 8, 2014 3:13 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - Dozens of state-funded cuddly mascots could be culled in western Japan after a local authority found the public doesn't recognise many of them, as managers look to rein in an obsession with cuteness.

Thousands of "yuru-kyara", or "laid-back characters", have been created all over Japan by police, traffic safety officials, tax offices, libraries and even prisons in a bid to press home various messages to a public particularly susceptible to oversized puppets.

The most successful go on to become national celebrities, playing their part in an industry worth tens of billions of dollars a year in merchandising alone.

Creations like Kumamon - a tubby black bear used to promote a lesser-known part of southern Japan - are instantly-recognisable motifs that have become part of the country's cultural landscape, adorning everything from aeroplanes to keychains.

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