Ministry touts cultural, industry promotion with Japan House diplomacy hubs

by

Staff Writer

The government aims to create a fresh network between Japan and people overseas with the announcement Friday of new diplomacy hubs to promote Japanese culture and industry.

The hubs, each dubbed a “Japan House,” will be set up in busy urban districts of London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo in 2017 in a bid to attract as many people as possible, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura said at a news conference at the International House of Japan in Tokyo. “Japan House aims to be an overseas hub to deliver Japan’s various charms to more people in the world” through events and exhibitions, Kawamura said.

“Moreover, Japan House sets out to be a foothold for motivated individuals who want to express Japan.” The initiative is based on proposals made in a growth strategy Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet adopted in June 2015 to shore up Japan’s diplomatic power.

Kawamura explained the operations at each facility will be outsourced to the private-sector, with the secretariat and steering committee set up locally. “Such core posts as executive director, planning chief and public affairs manager at the secretariat will be hired locally. We’d like to hire local people who are familiar with local needs and situations,” Kawamura said.

It is hoped that by emphasizing local people and opinions, a fresh network will be created connecting each city with Japan, he said.

Meanwhile, Japan House Chief Creative Director Kenya Hara, a famed graphic designer and curator, said he would like to see the Japan House program enrich the world through activities.

“Japan now needs to have a vision and strategy as a matured nation,” Hara said. “Through this project, I’d like Japan to actively work in the world and enrich the world, rather than waiting to receive recognition from the world.”

Moreover, he stressed Japan House will hopefully be a springboard for people around the world to get to know the country.

“I want them to realize how less familiar they are with Japan” by visiting Japan House, he said.

Hara noted that exhibition space will be a centerpiece of the facilities, which will each be equipped with shops and galleries. Each space is expected to average around 300- to 400-sq. meters, he added.

Japan House will publicly seek exhibition ideas for various parts of Japanese culture, he said. The winning proposals will be displayed at the three Japan House facilities for three months at a time.