Pokemon No: Japanese Cemetery Park in Hougang urges visitors not to hunt Pokemon on site

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The 30,000 sq m cemetery along Chuan Hoe Avenue, a quiet residential area, contains nearly 1,000 graves of Japanese civilians in Singapore and soldiers, mostly from the early 20th century, according to the VisitSingapore website of Singapore Tourism Board.

It was built in 1891 by three Japanese brothel keepers as a burial place for karayuki-san, or Japanese women brought here for prostitution, many of whom died poor and destitute.

Over the years, other Japanese civilians were buried there, mostly during the pre-war years. It also contains the ashes of Japanese soldiers, marines, and airmen killed during World War II, as well as the remains of Japanese war criminals executed at Changi Prison.

The cemetery was turned into a memorial park in 1987 and is maintained by the Japan Association of Singapore.

Although Pokemon Go was launched to much fanfare almost six years ago, the craze seems to continue.

It ranked as the sixth highest-earning mobile game in the world, with revenue of US$1.2 billion (S$1.62 billion) in 2021, according to business information firm SensorTower.

Players of the game are encouraged to explore the real world to catch animated monsters from the popular Japanese Pokemon TV series, and the app uses satellite locations and the phone’s camera to overlay these creatures on real-world settings.

When it launched, “Pokemania” took over cities around the world as players – energized by the game’s tagline, “Catch ‘Em All” – became obsessed with capturing as many characters as possible.

For a while in Singapore, it’s become quite common to see large crowds of players – young and old – congregating at hotspots to try and catch rare Pokemon.

Authorities around the world issued warnings as players, glued to their phones, fell off cliffs and into traffic.

The game developer has also removed Pokemon Go characters from the Atomic Bomb Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland after complaints that it was insensitive.

In November 2020, in a bid to bolster support for local tourism amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singapore Tourism Board announced a tie-up with the game developer to introduce up to 300 new locations where players could encounter and capture Pokemon or engage in virtual raids.

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