Cool Japan campaign needs to sweeten the pot: Taiwanese critic

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

The government should take the initiative to promote made-in-Japan Western confectionery overseas as a part of its Cool Japan campaign, Kin Bi-leng, a well-known Taiwanese critic based in Japan, said Wednesday during a government-hosted meeting to discuss promotional strategies.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, the Cool Japan campaign has so far mostly focused on spurring global interest in Japan’s creative content industries, including manga, “anime” (animation), music and fashion.

But the initiative can gain even further momentum by focusing on Japanese-made Western sweets that, despite their foreign origins, have been increasingly localized in Japan to high-quality effect, Kin said.

“Those sweets originally came from overseas, but Japanese people have taken the great liberty to modify them and made them highly popular in their country, which the concept of Cool Japan has taken little notice of so far,” Kin told the meeting, the second round since March 4.

She proposed that the government organize “sweets fairs” worldwide, recommending Taiwan as the first host, given its friendly bilateral relations.

Other prominent figures attending Wednesday’s meeting included Yasushi Akimoto, the mastermind behind the AKB48 female pop idol sensation. He believes it’s high time that talented Japanese creators unite to share their expertise to promote the country.

“The most important thing is that they do it even for free, seeing (Cool Japan) as a national strategy, and share the recognition that their country is at stake and that they simply need to revive it,” he said.

Although Japan’s food culture has been a highlight of the Cool Japan initiative since its inception, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spotlighted it anew in the March gathering by stressing its importance and need for promotion.