• Staff Report


Japan ranked eighth in the world in “soft power,” according to a new annual ranking released by U.K.-based consulting firm Portland.

The Soft Power 30, announced Wednesday, examines the strength of soft power resources in countries around the world, gauging their performance across six categories: government, education, culture, enterprise, engagement and digital. Data were collected on 50 countries, and the rankings were based on the top 30.

The firm defined “soft power,” first coined in 1990 by Harvard University professor Joseph Nye, as the ability of a country to harness attraction and persuasion, as opposed to force or financial payments, to pursue foreign policy objectives.

The report found that the U.K. leads the world in soft power. The country rated high in its culture, education and digital assets. The U.K. was followed by Germany, the U.S., France, Canada and Australia.

Japan came in eighth, ranking high in enterprise (third) and education (fourth). Japan’s ranking was the highest among Asian countries in the report, which also included South Korea, placing 20th and China at 30th.

“Japanese companies are admired around the world for their innovation, precision, and excellence in design,” the report said. “Despite two decades of recession, it remains a major aid donor, and a source of global credit and capital.”

The report rates Japan poorly, however, in adaptability to foreign languages.

“Despite some of the highest literacy rates in the world, even well-educated adults can display poor communication skills in English,” it said. “Perhaps tied to that is the fact that Japanese culture does not cut through to as many audiences as it should.”

The ranking was based on a combination of existing data by international organizations such as the OECD and World Bank with an online poll covering 7,250 people in 20 countries conducted between May 21 and June 8.

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