OSAKA PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENT / AFP/Getty Images
May 8, 2014
This handout picture taken by Osaka prefectural government on April 17, 2014 shows Osaka prefecture's official mascot for sports affairs "Moppy" which is inspired by a native bird in Osaka. Dozens of state-funded cuddly mascots could be culled in western Japan after a local authority found the public doesn't recognize many of them, as managers look to rein in an obsession with cuteness. Thousands of "yuru-kyara" ("laid-back characters") have been created all over Japan by police, traffic safety officials, tax offices, libraries and even jails in a bid to press home various messages to a public particularly susceptible to oversized puppets. Osaka prefecture has decided it is time for a cull, and is looking to trim its stable of 45 yuru-kyara to concentrate its efforts on a few more-recognisable offerings.