Respect the dead, Pokémon: Hiroshima memorial site ‘no go’ area for popular game

Guards stand near the gutted atomic bomb dome in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. © Toshiyuki Aizawa
A memorial site for the tens of thousands of people killed by an American atomic bomb is no longer an appropriate location for the popular Pokémon Go game.

Game developer Niantic was asked to remove ‘Pokestops’ from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park ahead of the annual ceremony this past weekend marking the war crime in which more than 100,000 people were killed in the final days of World War II.

An email response from the developer was received by officials just six hours before the start of the ceremony, AP reports.

Gamers who had been drawn to the site were mostly gone by last Thursday, but some 'monsters' that players were trying to catch were still appearing in the park.

City official Tatsuya Sumida said he expected characters from the game to be permanently removed from the site out of respect for the victims.

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“We were so relieved,” he said. “We were worried if those ‘Pokémon’ were really going to go away in time. We consider the park as a sacred place where we pray for the victims of the atomic bombings.”

Officials in the US made similar requests to Niantic, where the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and Arlington National Cemetery both asked for Pokestops to be removed.

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Players of the game were also criticized for using the app in Hiroshima’s Miyazaki Shrine, but in true Japanese style, a polite note was posted outside to ensure people paid their respects accordingly.