New entity in works to promote Cool Japan themes for export


The government plans to establish a public-private entity this fall with the aim of promoting exports of “anime,” fashion and other goods under its Cool Japan initiative, informed sources have said.

With the Cool Japan promotion being one of its key policy measures, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to nurture related businesses and have them grow into major export industries.

In its fiscal 2013 draft budget, the government has set aside ¥50 billion in capital for the new entity.

To run it, the institution will pull in experts in content industries and overseas marketing, the sources said. When selecting target projects for support, it will take into account profitability and potential ripple effects, the sources said.

The public-private body will mainly promote the export of various goods to major cities in emerging parts of Asia, capitalizing on the growing demand there, the sources said.

For example, it may support projects to set up shopping malls that will feature stores selling Japanese items, the sources said.

In emerging economies, interest in foreign culture among consumers tends to grow as their living standards improve, said an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is in charge of promoting the Cool Japan campaign. “We hope to foster the brand power of Japan,” the official said.

  • Far East

    Like in any business, the best to talk about it are the customers and the employees, so following this image, I think the Japanese Government should leverage the great number of Japan-loving foreigners living here and the everyday Japanese. They are the ones who make this nation such a great place to live!

  • Setting up stalls in shopping malls? Exporting various goods? Is this a farce? All of this is done already by the private sector. To truly promote “Cool Japan,” the government needs to back actual institutions which standardize their cultural and intellectual exports, not merchandise. Otherwise we’ll just be seeing more Hello Kitty in the discount bin and more pseudo-anime dreck on the Boob Tube.

  • Why not support talent and quality. These things fizzle after about a week… Why have the arts crashed along with the economy?

  • Glen Douglas Brügge

    I really cannot see how the expect to rely on exporting “anime” and Lolita fashions as a cornerstone for promoting interest and investment in Japan’s “Soft Culture.” It is slowly fizzling out as we speak. Pop culture is just that, temporary. It is not a very enduring, nor endearing aspect of Japanese culture. What they should be doing is focusing on tourism and traditional aspects of the culture (arts, crafts) and promoting those as an integrated package (I know the government does, but it could pump more money into that aspect of “Cool”). Granted, anime smacks less of “cultural imperialism” when trying to win over one’s Asian neighbors. But, for the rest of the world, “Cool Japan” needs to focus on what endures, and I would hazard to say, more tourists would rather see an old village in the Snow Country and enjoy a dip in an onsen rather than spending a day buying plastic junk in Akihabara.

    • Liam Zwitser

      I don´t understand why you think it´s fizzling out, maybe in america (altough cons still attract tens of thousands of people there), but here in the Netherlands, it´s only getting more and more and more popular! (anime/manga/games).

      I LOVE anime. Without it, I would not have been a Japanologist right now. As a matter of fact, 90% of the Japanology students at my university got into it that way (literally 90%).

      However, I still agree this is bullshit. Why? Because there IS NO “COOL JAPAN” HERE! It didn´t become popular because of cool japan programs, but because a ton of (mostly young) people simply love anime and manga! There are 8 anime/manga cons per year here nowadays (versus exactly 0 for western comic books, BTW, and I love in an European country XD) and they are all really fun. But they are organized by fans for otherr fans, and they do NOT need government initiatives to promote them.

      This stuff is popular enough on it´s own (I say as a big Otaku myself ^^ https://picasaweb.google.com/114730589893508500362 ) , so this is a waste of money. Also, it creates a risk of the government pressuring publishers to stop creating certain series that are not sellable, or other forms of psuede-censorship. In short: useless and dangerous.

      Which does not take away the fact that I consider anime/manga/cosplay/JRPG´s the most awesome and fun things ever made and will probably continue to be completely obsessed with it (as are all my friends) and go to all the cons and cosplay meets and have fun there for years to come. Amen.

      • Glen Douglas Brügge

        But the main issue at hand is the limited appeal of anime/manga as tool for sustained interest in Japan – I have no interest in either (and I hold a Master’s in Japanese Studies), and most people do not; it will eventually fizzle, mark my word. You cannot revive an economy using plastic figures and comic books. I lived in Japan for many years, and I found that much of the potential for promoting “Cool” Japan lay untapped. Lots of people are working to open up less explored areas of the country to tourism, and this is what the government should be pumping money into. It would be akin to America trying to improve its economy by pumping money into the comic and super hero action figure industry. Why not revive dying towns by promoting their tourist attractions? It is certainly being done – but money wasted on making action figure factories could be put to better use elsewhere.

      • Liam Zwitser

        uh I am not trying to be rude here, but did you read my reply? I agree 100% that it’s wasted money, I just don’t think it will fizzle out soon (yes eventually, but it’s been growing for years now so luckily that won’t happen anytime soon – luckily because I love the subculture and am complete immersed my it).

        However, again I do agree it’s wasted money simply because they are promoting something *because* it’s popular. If you do that you’re already doing it wrong; popular things by definition don’t need promotion, unpopular things do! And again, there is a risk here of the government pressuring cultural industries to make things that will be popular abroad. It wouldn’t be the first time – although less time the pressure was on newspapers, and it was meant to increase/sustain support for the war effort, off course. This would be less evil, but I would still prefer to see my favourite media forms remain completely independent of government intervention…

      • Glen Douglas Brügge

        I did read your and understand your reply. I know it is big all over the world, but it is probably not something that you want to bank a country’s future on. It only appeals to a niche market abroad.