The Chubu Connection article published in The Japan Times on July 12, titled “Students dealt real-life problems to broaden outlook,” describes Tatsuo Hirase, head of the business promotion office of the Chubu branch of Mitsui and Co., leading a two-day marketing seminar at Aichi Prefectural University.
It’s wonderful for students to have real-life practical lessons. But I am suspicious of nonacademic commercial interests defining what constitutes a real-life practical lesson. That is what students ought to discover for themselves — more than what schools should dictate to them.
And I am suspicious of a nonacademic businessman conducting a college seminar, and I am also suspicious of the link between business and school curricula. I am suspicious of a lot of things.
Hirase hailed the students’ initiative and creative thinking. That sounds like worthy praise, but I am suspicious of his praising results that serve his commercial interests.
The article reports that “Most of the ideas from the young students reflected their familiarity with ‘Cool Japan’ cultural products that they grew up with.”
I worry about the content of the Cool Japan concept. Cool Japan is a marketing-oriented expression coined to establish Japan as a brand name of international, global culture. If Tokyo’s dream is to become a world cultural superpower, it should rethink using certain domestic pop-culture icons.
Everybody knows Japan’s appetite for cuteness. But Japanese don’t seem to understand how nauseating cuteness is among adults. It’s OK for young children, but that’s all.
Aircraft with Pokemon livery or girl groups who can’t sing are a turnoff. Everybody knows Japan is the home of anime and manga. But Japanese don’t seem to understand how innately childish they are. Basing Cool Japan on such makes Japan look silly. Comic books and Kyari Pamyu Pamyu are ridiculous.
Students’ suggestions to paint cars different colors or to place manga cafes in auto showrooms as a marketing strategy show a typical preoccupation with appearance over substance.
So I feel that their imaginations are really conventional. They will make perfect corporate executives.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.