All at once, Japan is apparently able to engage in PR, government business, possible subtle parody of goverment business, children's toy and entertainment advertising, blog fodder creation, and the warm mainline cultural moment of giving a beloved classy lady her due. Japan has started appointing cartoon characters to its government.
First, there was this:
This robot cat is called Doraemon, and he is happy to have just been appointed Anime Ambassador to the World. He is shaking hands with the Foreign Minister of Japan, Masahiko Komura. Our analog would be Ms. C. Rice*. Seems Masahiko Komura's trying to exchange a knowing look with Nobita, friend of Doraemon, but, from this angle at least, it looks to be unreciprocated.
Naturally, Hello Kitty is now the Tourism Ambassador, specializing in China and Hong Kong. According to one article, she will have 11 other goodwill ambassadors to help her do her job, which is probably a good idea. Although of course.... this is a class act whose 2D disembodied head alone has moved millions of units of merchandise in many markets all over the world. I'm kind of surprised she had time to come and collect her certificate. Nice of her to dress traditional though.
*AHR did this mock-up to give an idea of what it would look like if anything like this were to transpire over here in Americaland.
Pobrecita's just happy to have a friend.