Cool Japan

‘Cool Japan’ campaign was proposed by Japanese ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry   (METI) in May, 2010. The concept revolves around the culture legacy of Japan and aims to influence the foreign market through cultural and ideological means of Japan.

  • The METI describes the strategy as its mission to brand the Japanese products with the uniqueness of Japanese culture.
  • The strategy is often termed as ‘National Cool’ as it promotes the cultural industry of Japan abroad, which could drive the nation’s future economic growth. It is also called as ‘soft power’.

Through the ‘Cool Japan’ strategy, Japan is reinventing to become a superpower again. In 1980s, Japan was known as an economic superpower. Perhaps, the political and economic power had collapsed but the global influence of the Japanese culture has grown and has been ever reaching to its new heights. Japan has far greater culture influence in music, consumer electronics, architecture, fashion, food and art; now that it had early in 1980s.

Japan’s ‘Cool Japan’ strategy is linked and said to be inspired from different concepts across the globe.

  • ‘Gross National Happiness’-Bhutan
  • ‘Cool Britannia’-UK
  • ‘Mc Donald’s’-US
  • ‘Cool Korea Campaign’-South Korea in 1997

The Japanese government has been inspired a lot from South Korea. South Korean goods –Samsung phones and Hyundai cars with a modern ,fun and young image have become a huge success globally.

What is so cool about Japan?

  • Ikebana’, the art of Japanese flower arrangement represents the old and traditional form of Japanese culture.
  • Many global brands look to the new fashion trends in Japan.
  • Yukata’, the Japanese garment usually made of cotton or synthetic fiber is admired by many, across Europe, US and Asia.
  • Lots of fashion magazines of Japan are very popular in China.
  • J- Pop or Japanese pop, a musical genre in the musical mainstream of Japan beats all over the world.
  • Pokemon, the Japanese video game company has become very popular among youngsters in recent years. Total video game export of Japan accounts to approx. 293 yen per year.
  • Hello Kitty’, the Japanese cartoon character is most visible in global markets. ‘Hello Kitty’ character products are available in 109 nations and regions.
  • Manga(Japanese comics) and Anime (Japanese version of animation)is considered very cool and trendy by foreigners.
  • The ‘Sumo museum’ in Tokyo is supposed to be one of the biggest attractions in Japan.

Japanese Govt. initiatives to promote “Cool Japan”

  • The government is working to set up a collaborative effort with private sector to blend ‘manga’ and ‘anime’ culture.
  • Subsidies on the export of ‘Cool Japan’ related products.
  • Promotion of Japanese cuisine.
  • had undertaken “Creative Tokyo initiative” to connect with other creative cities in Japan and abroad and to make ‘Tokyo the creative hub of Asia’.
  • Visa- relaxations for the foreign creative talents.
  • Abe’s govt. has allocated approximately $500 million (20 year fund) as capital for the campaign and to promote Japanese culture overseas.
  • Cool Japan Promotion Council has been set up, which holds frequent meetings to enhance the visibility of the campaign.
  • METI creative director created “Cool Japan daily” and “MAZER” web platforms to encourage people to participate and aware about Cool Japan related information.
  • Japanese govt. is providing assistance thru ‘Cool Japan fund’ to provide subsidies for dubbing and subtitles to broadcast Japanese shows in South- East Asia.

Criticism of Cool Japan

  • Many suspect that it not possible to turn ‘Cool Japan’ into cash/profit.
  • Japan is a blend of unique cultures but when compared to other money- making industries, the creative industries don’t make such money.
  • Some people term the cultural imagination of Japan too conventional. Japanese appetite for ‘cuteness’ is sometimes termed as childish, which is OK for children not for adults.
  • Many exhibitions organized to introduce J- pop and anime culture abroad have receive half- hearted response and little eagerness.

Cool Japan campaign in India

  • Japan sees great growth potential in Indian market. The campaign seeks to establish new Japanese brands in India by projecting the power of Japan’s content and products (food, fashion, toys, and stationery). Cool Japan is pursuing joint Japan-India anime production and character development along with the promotion of consumer products industry markets.
  • Japan fan base is expanding in India by “branding” not only fashion but also food and daily items.
  • In 2012, as a part of the commemoration of diplomatic relations, India held comprehensive Cool Japan trade fair. Indians participate with enthusiasm in Japan Expos.

Success of ‘Cool Japan’ campaign and current promotion measures

  • ‘Hello Kitty’ line of products sold by Sanrio Co. is a shining example of success story of ‘Cool Japan’.
  • The ‘Hello Kitty’ character drives the trade of almost $ 1 billion in global sales every year.
  • Sanrio Co. licenses so many products with Hello Kitty’s likeness ranging from apparels to fashion, art to consumer goods and many more.
  • Consumers from Asia, Europe and US continue to be influenced by Japanese culture.
  • The success of ‘Cool Japan’ clearly shows that Japan is a cultural superpower empowering young entrepreneurs. The strategy boosted the Japan’s national cool and creativity.
  • Japanese govt. sees a huge potential of creative sector in global market. ‘Cool Japan’ strategy currently focuses on more business opportunities globally.
  • The govt. plans strategic expansion of Cool Japan overseas to turn the popularity into revenue sources.
  • Cool Japan aims to attract more Japan fans along with ensuring employment with the promotion of small and medium business to develop overseas.
  • New collaborations are being promoted with the removal of systemic constraints.
  • Last but not the least, Japan sees it as a long term approach to improve Japan’s relationship with the world.
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