JIN-470 -- Soft Power

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 470 Wednesday June 18, 2008, Tokyo

-----------------------------------------------------------
Every PBXL wireless phone comes standard with:
a big color screen,
a 03 Tokyo number,
voicemail,
and more!

Everything you expect from the best office phone system
on the market.

Call today! 03-4550-2557
Get your new phone system in 3 steps: http://www.pbxl.jp/plans

PBXL is Hosted Business Telephony
Monthly seminars at Cisco HQ: http://www.pbxl.jp/seminarstt
More about PBXL: http://www.pbxl.jp/aboutus2
-----------------------------------------------------------

Soft Power

In international relations, the term 'soft power' was introduced
by Harvard professor Joseph Nye to describe the capacity for the
propagation of one nation's culture to promote its national
interests. Initially he sought to explain the importance of the
globalization of American culture, from baseball to McDonald's,
in its rise to super-power status. However, Nye himself and
other theorists have developed the concept and analyzed its
relevance to a range of different countries. With its 'hard
power' constitutionally restricted there is a strong case to be
made that for Japan, 'soft power' is something it has done
well to cultivate.

Across the globe, much of Japanese culture is widely recognized:
karate, karaoke, sushi, sumo, tea ceremony, shodo, manga, and
origami are well known to many in Europe, the US and throughout
Asia. However, it is difficult to identify how much of this
dissemination has been actively promoted by Japanese politicians
or business people, and how much is merely an organic result of
Japan's interaction with the world. It is also difficult to
measure the benefits (or costs) that Japan derives from this
dissemination of culture. After all, do people who have seen
James Bond movies really believe that Britain regularly saves us
all from annihilation, or just because people wear reggae
T-shirts does it mean they aren't racist towards black people?

However, a recent paper by Nassim Kadosh Otmazgin (published in
International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, June 2007) offers
up some evidence to suggest that in the Asian region the
Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been successful
in actively changing perceptions of Japan through promulgation
of popular culture. For example, government reports on diplomacy
refer repeatedly to terms such as 'soft power' and 'Gross
National Cool.' Some argue that the growing popularity of
characters such as Hello Kitty in China, Taiwan, and South Korea
is acting as a counter balance to anti-Japanese sentiment
originating in those countries' experience of Japanese
colonialism.

But, as Otmazgin observes, the key value is probably economic –
he calculates that 'Japanese global cultural export value,
including the media copyrights, publishing, fashion, and other
related entertainments and fine art, tripled in the 11 years
between 1993 and 2003, totaling as much as JPY10.5 trillion for
the entire period.' Beyond this, it is clear that films such as
Lost in Translation and Kill Bill have pushed up Japan's revenue
from tourism.

[Continued below...]

------------------- Century 21 SKY Realty -----------------

Century 21 SKY Realty has been the leader in Tokyo's real
estate market for more than 20 years.

We offer a wide selection of rental and sales properties for
residential living and commercial use. Our bilingual agents
are skilled at helping people find the ideal location to
accommodate their lifestyle.

We also help businesses find room to work with our vast
computerized inventory of commercial and office space, not
only in central Tokyo but also throughout most of Japan.

Visit our website for up-to-date listings and more features:
http://www.c21sky.com/c1/

-----------------------------------------------------------

[...Article continues]

While cultural and political theorists may concern themselves
with the range of images of Japan that such exports promote or
prevent, the financial benefit is unquestionable. Joseph Nye
himself, writing in The Japan Times a couple of years ago
expressed his own concern at the political benefits of Japan's
'soft power:'

'By mid-century, Japan's population could shrink by 30% unless
it attracts 17 million immigrants - a hard task in a country
historically resistant to immigration. Moreover, the Japanese
language is not widely spoken, and Japan's meager English-
language skills make it difficult to attract international
talent to its universities. Japan's culture remains inward-
looking.'

This view seems logical in that decreasing numbers of Japanese
people will probably reduce interaction between Japan and the
rest of the world but it perhaps overlooks the impressive, if
incomplete, work that has been done to bring foreigners to Japan
and educate them about Japanese culture. The JET Programme for
example, while bringing foreigners to Japan to assist with
English education, has another benefit of bringing graduates
from around the world to Japan and educating them about Japanese
language and culture – the majority go back to their own countries
with very positive views of Japan. Similarly, regional training
schemes and language exchanges also have a similar effect.
Moreover, according to the Japan Foundation there are 2.98
million people in 133 countries studying Japanese at 13,639
institutions outside of Japan. This surprisingly large number
shows a strong and continuing interest in Japan and suggests
that Japan's 'soft power,' defined in terms of the ability to
draw people towards it and create sympathy with its language and
culture, is not to be underestimated.

Peter Harris
Editor-in-Chief

++FEEDBACK

Want to comment? It is now even easier to voice your opinion
than ever before! Simply post a comment below the article
online at www.japaninc.com/jin470.

--------NEW GADGET BLOG: TEKRONOMICON.COM------------------

In collaboration with Gadget Watch, Gadget blog Tekronomicon
offers a detailed look at select gadgets - shiny and strange,
from gizmo ground zero in Tokyo.
See the gadgets introduced in Gadget Watch,
with photos and more at: www.tekronomicon.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

++EVENTS

-------------------- ICA Event - June 25 ------------------

Speaker: Henry Ng, Head of Professional Security Services
-Asia, Verizon Business

Topic: Bridging the Security Management Gap:
How to Move from Point Solutions to Process

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2008
Time: 6:30 Doors open includes light buffet
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map

-----------------------------------------------------------

business