Entertainment

Pokemon No: Game nixed from Japanese memorial as Thailand outlines no-go zones

Japan's atomic bomb memorial park in Hiroshima has successfully established itself as a 'Pokemon No' zone, with Thailand hoping it too can keep some key sites around the country Pokemon-free.

More sites requesting developer remove game elements from specfic areas

Pokemon Go players are seen gathering near Japan's Atomic Bomb Dome at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in late July. The Hiroshima memorial park is now Pokemon No, with the game's developer removing the creatures and sites that had drawn crowds of players to the park. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

It was a bit touch and go for Hiroshima officials, but the atomic bomb memorial park in the western Japanese city is now Pokemon No.

The city had asked the developer of the popular Pokemon Go smartphone game to remove the creatures and sites that appeared in the park by this past weekend, when a solemn annual ceremony was held to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing that killed 140,000 people in the final days of the Second World War.

Pokemon Go involves players trekking to prominent local landmarks, or Pokestops, to gather supplies used to capture "pocket monsters," or Pokemon.

Pokestops and gyms, as well as the clumps of players that they attract, were gone from the memorial by last Thursday, but the monsters that gamers try to catch were still popping up.

We consider the park a sacred place where we pray- Tatsuya   Sumida , Hiroshima city official

The city sent an email inquiry to game developer Niantic, and got a response at 1:56 a.m. Saturday local time, just six hours before the start of the ceremony.

"We were so relieved," city official Tatsuya Sumida said. "We were worried if those Pokemon were really going to go away in time."

He said city officials expect the monsters will stay away from the park permanently.

"We consider the park a sacred place where we pray for the victims of the atomic bombings," he said.

Thai Pokemon Go players are seen in front of a spirit house at a Government building in Bangkok. Two days after the highly anticipated smartphone game was released in Thailand, officials have drawn up a list of places where Pokemon can't go. The royal palace is one of them. (Sakchai Lalit/Associated Press)

Other landmarks around the world have asked to be removed as Pokestops, viewing the game as incompatible with their history or purpose. The game was removed from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington at the institution's request.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, officials are seeking a similar restriction of the game in certain locations, with the Royal Palace among the places Pokemon shouldn't go.

The highly anticipated augmented reality game launched in the country on Saturday, and the Election Commission soon warned against playing at polling stations during Sunday's referendum on a new constitution.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will discuss other zoning restrictions Tuesday with the game's Thai licensee to make sure players don't enter restricted areas in search of their virtual prey. That would mean no catching Pokemon in places such as the Royal Palace grounds, Buddhist temples and hospitals.

The Culture Ministry has already advised the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to limit players' foot traffic into ancient landmarks for fear of the potential wear and tear.