"Doraemon is now officially the first cartoon ambassador for Japan"

A recent political story making the media rounds this week is news that the Japanese manga character, Doraemon, has been appointed as the first ever cartoon ambassador for Japan.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura appointed the popular cartoon robot cat as an “anime ambassador”, handing a life-sized Doraemon doll an official certificate at an inauguration ceremony. Doraemon also received dozens of his favorite desert, “dorayaki” (red bean pancakes) as part of the ceremony.

According to the Associated Press, Doraemon was largely chosen as ambassador to “harness the power of pop culture in diplomacy.”

DoraemonDoraemon and his gang

Whilst most newspapers such as the Mainichi Online, China Post and The Dallas Morning News pretty much publish word-for-word the factual report from the AP. However, The Times newspaper, ever cynical, have taken an interesting stand on this story.

The Times’ article begins with the paragraph: “Bludgeoned by political crisis and driven to despair by financial turmoil, Japan has finally turned to an imaginary champion in its hour of need,” and goes on to explain how Doraemon is actually one of the biggest victims of intellectual property violations by China.

The article then manages to link this into the recent Bank of Japan problem: “Despite its success in appointing a cartoon cat as cultural ambassador, for example, the Government has still failed to appoint a human being as governor of the Bank of Japan, leaving the central bank of the world’s second-largest economy without a helmsman amid global financial meltdown.”

So whilst we all thought that Doraemon was chosen as ambassador to spread the word about Japanese culture, it turns out that actually, “Japan’s deep and worsening problems policing the abuse of its intellectual property in China are a continuing source of tension and Doraemon is highly symbolic of that issue,” as well as “the unorthodox appointment” coming despite Japan falling into new realms of “chaos and dysfunction.”

The Times proves to us again that what appears to be an innocent story actually harnesses the hidden problems of a continuously challenged Japan.

The Mainichi Online: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/entertainment/news/20080320p2a00m0et006000c.html

The Times Online:

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