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  • Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 30th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Here are two articles about an economic phenom I’ve never quite gotten the hang of:  the “coolness” of a country.  The Asahi frets that Japan is losing out to other Asian countries in “coolness”, whatever that means.  There is an actual department within METI dealing with “cool”, BTW, and an article below talks about “Japan’s Gross National Cool”, again, whatever that means.  Sounds like a means for former PMs like Aso to create manga museums and bureaucrats to get a line-item budget for officially studying “soft power”.  Ka-ching.

    But in all fairness, it’s not only Japan.  Brazil is doing something similar with its quest for  “soft power” (but more as an understated tangent to its economic growth, according to The Economist London).  And of course, PM Blair had “Cool Brittania”.  So this may be just an extension of trying to measure the value of services as well as hard material goods, or a hybrid thereof.  It’s just that with “soft power” comes the potential for some equally soft-focus science — how can you be “losing” to other countries in something so hard to measure?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////

    South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle
    THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/07/26

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007250293.html

    In industry as well as sports, Japan has found itself trailing in the footsteps of China and South Korea.

    Those two neighbors are now threatening Japan’s place in the cultural realm as well.

    Between July 1 and 4, the Japan Expo in Paris attracted manga and anime fans from around Europe. In recent years, about 150,000 people have taken part.

    In one section of the event, however, signs were displayed for manhwa, the Korean term for manga.

    For the first time in the 11-year history of the expo, the manhwa sign was displayed through the efforts of the Korea Creative Content Agency, a South Korean government agency.

    Tetsuya Watanabe, the official in charge of the Cool Japan section at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, could not hide his shock at the strides being made by South Korea.

    “There may come the day when this event is overwhelmed by manhwa,” Watanabe said.

    South Korea has been stressing the fostering of its cultural industry from the 1990s and the Korea Creative Content Agency plays an important role in that effort.

    The agency operates mainly through about 180 billion won (about 13.3 billion yen or $152.1 million) in government subsidies. Among its main roles are drawing up a strategy to move into foreign markets as well as to develop individuals in the cultural industry.

    Agency President Lee Jae-woong said, “In the 21st century, the cultural industry will lead all industries. That is the recognition of the South Korean government.”

    In addition to manga, South Korea is also making major efforts in film, even as Japanese directors such as Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano have received international acclaim.

    A new base for South Korean cinema is now under construction at the Haeundae seaside resort area in Busan.

    A roof measuring about 1.5 times the size of a soccer pitch is supported by what looks like tree limbs.

    The site will eventually become the main venue for the Pusan International Film Festival.

    The film center is scheduled for completion in September 2011 and the South Korean and Busan city governments have invested a total of 162.4 billion won.

    An area of about 60,000 square meters, including the film center, will also eventually house facilities to train animators. Two years from now, government agencies in charge of the film industry will move to Busan from Seoul.

    South Korean government officials want to turn the area into an Asian film hub.

    In the background lies the success of the Pusan International Film Festival which began in 1996.

    The scale of the festival expanded with the aggressive backing provided by the national and local governments.

    From 1998, a new project was begun to bring together movie producers and investors from various Asian nations.

    From 2005, a program was begun to have movie directors and others give lectures to individuals aspiring to careers in the movie industry.

    Such efforts rapidly improved international recognition of the film festival.

    One result is that the number of world premieres offered at the Pusan International Film Festival reached 98 last year, far outpacing the 26 presented at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which has an older history, having begun in 1985.

    This year’s Pusan International Film Festival, to be held in October, will have a budget of about 10 billion won (700 million yen), about 4.5 times the budget of the first festival. Three-quarters of the budget is being covered by the central and city governments.

    The Korea Creative Content Agency’s Lee said, “When moving into global economic markets, efforts should also be made to improve the level of cultural industry. Improving culture will improve the image of a nation and heighten the product value of manufactured goods. The South Korean government is well aware of that connection.”

    China is also making efforts to improve its cultural industry. In 2007, the Communist Party convention placed cultural soft power as a major national policy.

    In addition to movies and publishing, China has in recent years emphasized anime. Anime industrial bases have been constructed in about 20 locations in China, including Dalian, Tianjin and Changsha.

    A number of anime companies with more than 1,000 employees have since emerged.

    Those efforts were evident at the Tokyo International Anime Fair held in March in the Ariake district of Tokyo.

    Of the 59 companies from abroad, 38 were from China, while only 16 were from South Korea.

    The Chinese city of Chongqing held meetings at a Tokyo hotel during the fair that brought together anime companies based in Chongqing with Japanese companies.

    Wu Jiangbo, deputy director of the Cultural Market Department of China’s Culture Ministry, said, “The anime fair is an important platform to publicize China’s works and companies.”

    The central government has a heavy hand in developing China’s anime industry.

    A high-ranking Culture Ministry official said, “The market has grown to 100 billion yuan (1.3 trillion yen), about six times the Japanese market.”

    However, Chinese officials are not satisfied with the current situation.

    Wu said, “Although there are now about 5,000 anime companies in China, there is no company recognized around the world. We want to foster a first-class company on a global scale.”

    In the past, Chinese companies were nothing more than subcontractors for the Japanese anime industry.

    Now, there is more equality in the relationships.

    In June, a news conference was held in Shanghai to announce the start of production of a Chinese-language anime movie based on a Japanese TV anime, “Ikkyu-san,” that was popular during the 1980s in China.

    The movie version will be jointly produced by Toei Animation Co. of Tokyo and the Shanghai Media Group.

    Hidenori Oyama, senior director at Toei Animation, said of the project, “It will be a first step to move into the Asian market.”

    However, those on the Chinese side have bigger plans in mind.

    They are targeting the generation that grew up watching Ikkyu-san, an anime about a Buddhist monk, as well as their children.

    Wang Lei, a vice president with the Shanghai Media Group, said, “If this succeeds in China, we want to sell it in Southeast Asia.”

    Chinese Cultural Minister Cai Wu said, “We have learned a lot about cultural policy from Japan and South Korea. In particular, the policy of South Korea has been wise because even though it is a small nation it has achieved economic development and has exported many aspects of South Korean culture.”

    Trying to keep up, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established the section for Cool Japan in June.

    One official said, “We want to heighten Japan’s brand image through a strategic overseas marketing move in such areas as anime, design and fashion, and tie that into economic growth.”

    ENDS

    Related:

    日本政府は先月18日、新成長戦略を発表し、海外で人気が高い日本のアニメやマンガなどのコンテンツ「クール・ジャパン」の輸出促進を重点的な成長分野に位置付けた。国営新華社通信が伝えた。

    文化産業大国である日本の文化コンテンツは世界で人気を集めている。日本のファッションはアジアひいては世界の流行を長年リードしており、日本のアニメも世界のアニメ市場において揺るぎない地位を獲得している。観光業も世界市場でトップクラスにある。

    日本の文化産業は強い競争力を持つ。米政治アナリスト、ダグラス・マグレイ(Douglas McGray)氏が米外交専門誌「外交(Foreign Policy)」に「日本の国民総クール度(Japan’s Gross National Cool)」と題する小論を発表し、日本のアニメや音楽、テレビゲーム、家電製品、ファッション、グルメなど日本のポップカルチャーが持つ国際的影響力を高く評価した。その後「クール・ジャパン」が魅力溢れる日本のポップカルチャーを指す代名詞として使われるようになった。見方を変えれば、「クール・ジャパン」は日本のソフトパワーを象徴するものと言える。

    日本のソフトパワーの強さは、コンテンツ産業を長年重視してきた日本の政策とかかわりがある。日本は『著作権法』『文化芸術振興基本法』『コンテンツの創造、保護および活用の促進に関する法律』など関連の法律を実施してきた。麻生太郎氏が外相と首相を務めていた時期には、「マンガ外交」を打ち出した。デジタル技術の普及後も、日本は知的財産権の保護やコピー防止に関する技術の開発に努め、インターネット時代にあってもコンテンツの著作権をしっかりと保護してきた。

    日本は最近、文化産業に関する新たな措置を打ち出した。経済産業省はアニメ商品の輸出を促進するため、世界戦略拠点を北京に開設した。さらに同省の製造産業局(METI)が「クール・ジャパン室」を設置、デザインやアニメ、ファッション、映画の輸出を含む文化産業の促進のほか、海外市場の開拓や人材育成などの企画立案、支援推進策の政府横断的実施に乗り出している。「クール・ジャパン」を軸として、文化産業の輸出促進に向けた官民一体の取り組みが進められている。

    6月中旬に日本政府が発表した新成長戦略でも「クール・ジャパン」の海外展開が新成長戦略の重点に位置付けられた。海外の番組枠の買い取りやデジタル配信の強化、海外コンテンツの流通規制の緩和・撤廃、海賊版の防止などの措置を通じて、民間企業を中心としたクール・ジャパンの海外展開をはかる。新成長戦略では、2020までにアジアにおけるコンテンツ収入1兆円を実現することを目標として掲げている。

    日本の産業は転換期にある。文化産業を新成長戦略の重要な分野に位置付けていることは、産業転換の重要な現れだ。政府の後押しを背景として、文化産業は日本経済成長をけん引する重要な柱と成長していくだろう。

    29 Responses to “Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means”

    1. Allen Says:

      I’d rather that the “coolness” (anime/manga) die down instead of increase. This way, people can see and appreciate the side of japan that one would never see in such media. Lessen the amount of anime/manga influence, let people discover Japan for other cultural reasons, and let more educated people immigrate into the country because of their appreciation of the non-pop culture of Japan. People immigrating into the nation because of the rest of the culture is much better then a large mass of people visiting Tokyo for the anime/manga. Perhaps I am being rude, but I don’t want people(japanese or not) thinking “Oh, you just came to Japan because you like anime”.

    2. Mark Hunter Says:

      Anime is cool and all, but serioulsy, as a driver of economic salvation or even as soft power? The whole thing is quite pathetic. Anime appeals to a very narrow range of people, often young and short on funds, who may help fill the pockets of a few publishers, but that’s about all. There is some money to be made in cultural things, espcially by appealing to upper middle class westerners (judging by the tour groups I see in Kyoto) who have retired and have the bucks to fly here and see things for themselves, but I sometimes see these attempts at pushing soft power as a kind of veiled nationalism. The Cool Brittania push was a much broader drive to increase all kinds of business activities with Britain. Korea and Japan could learn from that, much like the final official quoted seems to have done: “We want to heighten Japan’s brand image through a strategic overseas marketing move in such areas as anime, design and fashion, and tie that into economic growth.”

    3. jjobseeker Says:

      Debito,
      The “cool culture” movement within governments is important because it serves as cultural “branding”, that is to say promotion of one’s culture abroad which then creates interest in either tourism to that country or goods, services, expertise, etc. from or by said country. Just as certain foreign words can make it into the lexicon of a society half a world away, “cool culture” is a soft way to penetrate a market, first mostly through subculture, but eventually with an aim to wider acceptance. For me, the part that caught my attention was:

      “The agency operates mainly through about 180 billion won (about 13.3 billion yen or $152.1 million) in government subsidies. Among its main roles are drawing up a strategy to move into foreign markets as well as to develop individuals in the cultural industry.”

      Notice that part about developing individuals? From my experience in the creative field, I do sense that Korea and China are as focused on developing and assisting talent as they are in moving their creations into foreign markets. Korean film directors, stars, etc. are becoming more recognized by name abroad recently than Japanese creators due to the efforts of the Korean government. This “branding” of talent is the key difference in the strategies between Korea (maybe China) vs. Japan. And I for one am seeing it slowly succeeding.

    4. icarus Says:

      Jjobseeker is right on the mark. This kind of soft power or ‘coolness’ is really just a way of marketing your country overseas. More mindshare means more tourists, i.e. more dollars, coming into your country. Japan has been at the top of this list of cool countries for over a decade thanks almost entirely to anime and video games, and you can see the influences of Japanese pop culture all over the place.

      The problem here is that anime and game production companies have been seeing decreased sales as of late, and in order to cut costs they are outsourcing work and eliminating the really creative projects that made them famous. A lot of Japanese animation is now animated in Korea, and even game companies have been using overseas development units to finish projects. These are not bad things, but they generally serve only to direct attention to other locations.

      And debito, you mentioned the Manga museum, but that was probably one of the only really ingenious ideas that Aso had (maybe the only one). If done right, a museum like that could have really served as a central point of attention for younger tourists visiting the country, and it would have brought some of the spotlight back to where the anime culture all began. It was criticized for being a waste of tax dollars (and realistically it would have probably become a pork project), but a lot of that criticism was coming from people too short sighted to see how beneficial soft power can be to your country. Consider it a big PR project, if you will, and in the end the government missed out on an opportunity to advertise their country around the world.

      One last point to consider: The people who originally enjoyed animation and games from Japan are mostly in their 30s right now. These are the people who grew up on Star Blazers, Macross (Robotech), Lupin III, Super Mario Brothers, etc. These 30-somethings are a large source of dispensable income, and it is in Japan’s best interest to market tour packages to this demographic. Unfortunately, as the above two articles point out, as Japan loses its soft power, the appeal of flying half-way around the world at considerable cost doesn’t seem as worthwhile as it once did.

    5. BK Says:

      When will the politicians realize that Japan’s population is aging? There’s nothing cool about walking frames and adult diapers.

    6. Ken Says:

      There’s got to be a way to calculate soft power points. Something like:

      ((average age of citizenry)/(number of words in the Encyclopedia Dramatica entry on that country)^2 (number of Twitter accounts with over 1 million followers) * (operating profit at soft power firms generated overseas)) / (Number of Google searches for that country’s soft power products)

    7. Ryan V Says:

      There’s more to soft power / branding current pop culture as cool. Coming to a country because you like their history and culture in the past does not mean that you will like the country as it stands today.

      I’m still residing in Canada learning Japanese for a move sometime in the next year. I’m getting guide books, reading wikipedia, wikipedia’s sources and anything I can get my hands on for learning about the culture of Japan.

      Suppose all I find is information on the Warring States Period. I decide cool and come over. That has some bearing on what my life would be like day to day, but it wouldn’t be the biggest influence of what my life will be like in Japan.

      I agree anime and pop culture isn’t the only deciding factor either. But if you can’t stand a country’s current culture and arts why would you go to see the country, let alone live there?

    8. jim Says:

      i wonder who in japan coined the word cool in this case? because it just doesnt fit at all. whats cool about a 50 year old reading a kids manga on a packed train?

    9. level3 Says:

      It’s pretty simple. Government sponsorship of official “coolness” surveys and activities just serves as a way for bureaucrats to get paid while having fun reading comics, meeting their favorite artists, mingle with celebrities, get free signed copies for their kids, indulge in entertainment “investigations” at taxpayer expense, and in the end, try to justify wasting billions of yen by overstating the real benefits (if any) of “soft power” to the common man.
      Pretty much any government activity, especially in “democratic” bureaucracies like Japan, can be explained by this principle. Every act of political power is done to enrich the bureaucrats’ lives and pocketbooks. Other results mean nothing. It’s just that simple.

      Besdies, if soft power worked, America should be the most loved country on the planet thanks to all the entertainment output. But being Number One is so last century… gawd. 😉

    10. Troy Says:

      I knew what GNC was before the article on it was written back in 2002, but didn’t have a name for it.

      Back in the 80s Japan really had some mojo — Studio Nue, Ghibli, Namco, Koei, Nintendo, and on the hardware side, Sony, Sharp, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda.

      Japan had a monopoly on pumping out products with a “je ne sais quoi” coolness that can’t be explained if you don’t see it.

      This stuff can be copied but not re-created from scratch.

      As for the origin of GNC, here it is:

      http://www.douglasmcgray.com/grossnationalcool.pdf

      it’s kinda a thumbsucker but its takeaway is that Japan has been very good and repackaging international norms, smoothing off their rough edges and productizing them into compelling content.

      Miyazaki’s stuff is a good example of this — his artistic vision is strongly influenced by a love for the mechanical age European steam-era technology. The best Japanese cars have been European-designed. Macross was cool for its remixing of a 20th century F-14 with Lucas’ X-Wing fighter into a more recognizable space fighter.

      China, a nation 10X the size of Japan, has done just about zero compared to the above Japanese companies I have listed. This will change, but GNC takes a refractory period — of intake, digestion, understanding — before original contribution to the “state of the art” can occur.

      — Haven’t heard the words “refractory period” used since the hedonistic days of college. Love it.

    11. Rachel Says:

      I very much agree with Allen. The anime/manga/VG culture is ‘cool’ as far as many youth know or care, but these youth come to idolize Japan solely for it and can even suffer deceptions when they come over (as eikaiwa teachers, trainees or scholarship receivers) and see the not-so-‘cool’ side of things firsthand. Not to mention the surprise and shock they receive when they find out that ‘otaku’ (which is much toted abroad as a mark of pride) has all sorts of negative connotations in Japan.

      By the way, did anyone notice the rather interesting choice of wording for some parts of the article? Such as “Japan has found itself trailing in the footsteps of China and South Korea. Those two neighbors are now threatening Japan’s place…” That’s a little overkill, wouldn’t you say? Regardless of what the rest of the article is about, the mood is already set, and there’s a prevalent (if unnecessary) sense of ‘danger’. Not to mention the completely unrealistic concern that, “There may come the day when this event is overwhelmed by manhwa.”

      In my humble view, anime and manga were ‘cool’ for a while due to their novelty factor and the fact that they were so different from Western animation. (Seriously. When was the last time you saw somebody get gruesomely disemboweled and bleeding for 20 episodes in a mainstream Western cartoon?) Now, this novelty is beginning to die out. It’s the natural order of cultural phenomena. I wonder if the ‘cool Japan’ brigade will be able to breathe some new life into the industry. (Doubt it, though.)

    12. adam Says:

      I think that anime and manga ARE important, for many reasons. I personally was drawn into studying Japanese through anime. This led to me not only learning the language but also learning about Japanese literature and reading great writers such as Akutagawa Ryuunosuke (who I consider to be a master of the short story in the same league as Chekhov), as well as more modern writers like Yoshimoto Banana and Murakami Haruki. Japan’s “cool” factor happened to be what brought me to learning about Japan as a whole. My experience is not unusual. A large percentage of the people who become Japanese majors and end up spending time learning classical Japanese had their interest sparked by anime and manga.

      Perhaps is reading Kawabata and Yoshimoto Banana was as hip as reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, then anime and manga wouldn’t have to carry the entire weight of Japanese culture overseas.

      On another level, anime and manga are a very special, important creation of Japanese culture. Just consider manga. There are comics cultures in many countries, but I think Japan has reached a level that is amazing and nearly unmatched. Just the comparison with America is instructive; in America, comics are marginal and mainstream comics are restricted entirely to superhero comics. Serious comics exist, but Will Eisner is less important to American comics as a whole than Stan Lee. In Japan, in contrast, there is a huge variety of comics, covering nearly every aspect of the human condition. Not only that, but there are a lot of very, very good comics, from Tezuka’s canon to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to Chibi Maruko-chan. A world without these things is a poorer world, and a Japan without manga is a much poorer Japan.

      It’s easy to dismiss the importance of culture, but a world with engineering and science but no art is unthinkable – Italy is Galileo and Vivaldi, and richer for having produced both. Keep in mind that Ukiyo-e were mass produced prints, but now are considered high art. I wouldn’t look to culture for economic salvation, and I certainly wouldn’t look to anime and manga to do more than bring a thin flow of tourists, but I wouldn’t dismiss it either. Keep it in context.

    13. Mattimus Says:

      I live in San Diego and frequent the independent movie theaters quite often, and I can say for sure that Korean films are eclipsing Japanese films in popularity here. I’ve seen the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance trilogy, The Host, The Good the Bad and the Weird, and many other awesome movies released to an ever growing crowd while Japan makes virtually no films that make it on to the international circuit any more. From what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Korean films are absolutely more popular than Japanese films at the moment, and rightfully so.

      On that note, if you haven’t seen “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird” I absolutely recommend it. I hope “kimchi-westerns” become a popular genre.

      As for anime and manga, outside of children it only seems to be popular with a particular crowd of, um, ‘particular’ individuals. Recently, I would say that the associations are more negative than positive, so I’m not sure that producing more of it is the right way to go about increasing the national “cool” factor. Films and music would certainly be a better bet, but that requires inspired individuals, and you let me know when a government figures out how to produce those.

      -Matt

    14. Marcus Says:

      RE:”whats cool about a 50 year old reading a kids manga on a packed train?”

      I think it’s cool to not bother with what other people decide as cool but instead enjoy what you enjoy without being ashamed of it. If a 50-year-old is reading a kids manga on a packed train, kudos to him. Not to you for being judgmental

    15. Valentina Says:

      I started studying Japanese this year at university in Milan, and while I’m not particularly interested in manga and anime and was not led to study the language because of them, many (if not most) of my classmates are. When we began this year we were about 170 in my faculty (there are other faculties in which Asian languages are studied), and if my Japanese language and history teachers are to be believed, there has been a steady increase in the number of students in the last few years (unfortunately I couldn’t find any official data), even though only a few of us will get the degree, as many Italian university students drop out during the first or second year. Most of us were born between 1985 and 1990, so we grew up watching anime on tv, though often heavily censored to cater an audience of children – because of the “myth” that cartoons are only for children. This “myth” has been challenged solely by Mtv, which since 1999 airs anime aiming at a more mature audience with little to no censorship in prime time: although in Italy cartoons are still largely considered children’s stuff, many teenagers changed their mind after watching just a few episodes of Nana or Neon Genesis Evangelion on Mtv (I personally know many whose passion for Japanese cartoons was started by some anime aired by Mtv). And often after you watch the anime you want to read the manga – the two things are usually correlated. Also, reading manga and generally comics, despite not being very common, has no negative connotation, and actually comics are often considered a form of art, at least the best-made, highest-quality ones.
      Besides tv, in recent years the Internet played a very important role in spreading the manga and anime culture: on the Internet you can find lots of subbed anime and dramas and translated manga which in many cases are not aired or sold outside Japan. Despite this being illegal, it clearly has increased the diffusion of anime and manga. The Internet was fundamental for the diffusion of Japanese music abroad, too – both pop and rock, and visual kei in particular. I listen to various Japanese rock bands that I couldn’t know and whose cds I couldn’t buy if I didn’t have the Internet. To give you a concrete example: last year Miyavi, one of my favourite musicians, had a world tour and through Myspace I found out that in October he would have played in Milan. The concert was in a small venue, which by the way was full. We were about 1300 people, mostly teenagers (I wasn’t even 19 and I was one of the oldest), from almost every part of Italy. 1300 people are not many in absolute terms, but if you consider that Miyavi’s songs have never been aired by tv or radio channels and that his concert and tour were not advertised in any way by the classical media, it’s a great result, and it couldn’t have happened without the Internet, the social media in particular.
      Japanese literature and videogames are also appreciated here. Asian movies are largely ignored in Italy, and it’s very difficult to find cinemas that show them, even in the major cities.
      Of course not all the people who watch anime or read manga or novels or listen to Japanese music decide to study the language or to move to Japan etc, and they certainly can’t save Japan’s economy, but still all these things help create a good image of Japan abroad. I personally would like many people, especially among my peers, to go beyond Japanese pop culture because Japan is obviously much more than that, but I can see its value: without it, for many people Japan would probably be nothing more than a far away country inhabited by a strange Chinese-like population.
      Sorry for the lenghth :-)

    16. Allen Says:

      An update on “Cool Japan”. The Japan Time’s Mark Jarnes published a Views From The Street asking “Can Selling ‘cool Japan’ save the ailing economy and help avert a demographic disaster?”

      Article linked here:

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110125vf.html

    17. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Here’s a criticism of Cool Japan from an expected guy who complained his experience of discrimination in France.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/entertainment/view/gackt-lashes-out-at-cool-japan-almost-no-results-of-japanese-culture-exported-overseas

    18. mdo7 Says:

      @ Loverilakkuma

      You can read more interesting comments on Rocketnews24 and a lot of people agreed with him, I also agreed with him:

      http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/07/03/gackt-lashes-out-at-cool-japan-almost-no-results-of-japanese-culture-exported-overseas/

      He’s right and I don’t think Japan can replicate what South Korea did. There something to add regarding “Cool Japan”, turn out the govt what part of Japan is cool and what’s not as according to a CNBC article:

      http://www.cnbc.com/2015/05/14/who-gets-to-decide-japan-is-cool.html

      So it looks like Japan hasn’t learn anything from South Korea (or Taiwan, which has able to learn from their Korean counterpart and now Taiwanese pop culture is starting to get some attention outside of Asia like Latin America for example)

      But there’s another big failure from Cool Japan: Japanese language classes in US has declined for the last few years.

      https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/02/11/mla-report-shows-declines-enrollment-most-foreign-languages

      http://monitor.icef.com/2015/02/foreign-language-study-us-declines-first-time-20-years/

      As you can see Japanese language classes in US has declined by 7.8% between 2009-2013. We’ve been getting a lot of anime and manga in the US for the last few years and yet Japanese language classes in US decline, so I wonder why? Meanwhile Chinese language classes went up by 2% (In my opinion, Chinese language is hard or ever harder then Japanese language due to the many dialect) and surprisingly (or not) Korean went up 45%, and that sharp rise has gotten attention from US and Korean media:

      http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-korean-language-20150401-story.html

      http://www.voanews.com/content/enrollment-in-korean-language-classes-growing/2731075.html

      http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/04/03/397263103/way-more-college-students-are-studying-korean-is-hallyu-why

      http://iamkoream.com/korean-language-enrollment-at-u-s-colleges-sees-sharp-rise/

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sQy9ViHkek

      I’m not surprised by the interest in Korean language, it’s all thanks to Korean dramas and K-pop music and now because of this and Japan’s failure to “cash in” on the drama fad (when Taiwan did this), it’s been acknowledged that South Korea “outcool” Japan:

      http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/08/opinion/yang-korea-cool/

      http://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/how-korea-became-the-worlds-coolest-brand

      http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=121047

      So it looks like anime and manga has lost it’s “cool” factor and cultural appeal it once had.

    19. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Mdo7 #18

      It’s not only that Japanese classes are closing in the US, but also in the UK;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/25/national/new-reforms-threaten-future-of-japanese-language-study-in-england/

      Why?
      Reforms of the education system and cost cutting. But note, Japanese gets cut, Chinese doesn’t. Why? Well maybe because China is outperforming Japan. Peking university outranks Todai now;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/01/national/global-800-rankings-put-singapore-top-asia-university-tokai-loses-crown-falls-23rd-42nd/

      So NJ students are ‘passing’ Japan at university level, leading to a cut in Japanese classes at the high-school level. Such a shame after all the money spent on ‘cool Japan’. I guess manga and anime just aren’t enough for the kids of today to travel abroad for- they want useful real world skills.

      And Japan isn’t really doing very well as an ‘economic beacon of Asia’ is it?
      The US and Indonesia have chosen Chinese high-speedtrains over Japanese shinkansen;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/30/business/japan-loses-indonesian-high-speed-railway-contract-china/

      And sour-grapes Suga then goes on-record insulting the Chinese are the Indonesians! Where is this much vaunted Japanese humility and good-manners? Crushed by Japanese nationalist arrogance, it seems. That should entice new customers! And while we’re at it, how did China win the contracts? Because the Chinese government offered to bank-roll and subsidize the projects way more than the Japanese could afford to do. This is a trick the Chinese learnt from the Japanese, back in the days when the Japanese were selling radios, TV, cars, video players, DVD players, to the US and European markets; use corporate welfare to allow J-Inc to undercut US/Euro manufacturers on selling price, stealing huge market share, thus crippling rivals ability to invest in next generation technology, and putting them out of the picture within a generation.

      Now the Chinese are doing it to Japan, but NOT radios, TVs, and DVD players (they already got cars; Abe’s much loved Nissan self-driving car was developed by Nissan owner Renault, who is part of the Volvo group, and Volvo is owned by the Chinese now). No, the Japanese aren’t stealing Japan’s consumer goods manufacturing base (that’s been left to Korea’s Samsung), but are moving in on that ‘wishful short straw’ that Abe is grasping at to save the Japanese economy; heavy industry! It’s not just beating Japan at the shinkansen game, but now in the jet-liner game!

      While Japan is still trying to get over the Boeing Dreamliner fires created by Japanese supplied batteries, China will start building Boeing aircraft;

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/23/us-icbc-leasing-boeing-idUSKCN0RN16120150923

      So that’s the First and the second ‘legs’ of the ‘tripod of national power in international relations’.
      The ‘first leg’; political power; states share the same values, so you can reasonably ask and expect co-operation between those states. But as the failure of ‘cool Japan’, and the closing of Japanese language programs shows, Japanese social values aren’t making any progress outside Japan. No one cares about Japan’s cultural exports of school girls and robots.

      The ‘second leg’ is failing; economic power. Japan can’t match China in outspending it around the world in making friends and influencing state policies.

      So what’s left? The ‘third leg’. It goes like this;
      If I can’t persuade you with an explanation, I’ll buy you off. If you can’t be bought, I’ll beat you into submission. The ‘third leg’; military force.
      Japan desperately wants to be able to flex it’s muscles. As Gavan McCormack has pointed out, people like Tamogami want Japan to have nuclear weapons so that they can force Korea to accept Japan’s lies about the sex-slaves.
      But Abe is more modest. He doesn’t want to invade Korea, he wants to return Japanese society to a 1930’s military/police state. And for that to take place, he has to rehabilitate the Japanese military in the eyes of the Japanese people themselves. How to do that? Joining US wars won’t do it (in fact, that’s what the Japanese are afraid of), so what can he do?
      UN Peace-keeping!
      Abe believes that Japanese soldiers are less likely to rape (like we know, history isn’t Abe’s strong suit);

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/30/national/politics-diplomacy/abe-unsc-pitch-pledges-810-million-syria-iraq-refugee-aid-750-peace-building/

      But Abe is out-gunned by China’s decision to ear-mark 8,000 of its troops for peace-keeping duties (no doubt China understands that this is all part of Japan’s bid to snatch a UNSC permanent seat- seats are for the winners!).

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/29/asia-pacific/beijing-contribute-8000-strong-u-n-force-abe-vows-larger-peacekeeping-role-sdf/

      But maybe that doesn’t really matter?
      Prediction time again…
      I predict that Abe wants Japanese troops to be deployed on ‘honorable’ and ‘humanitarian’ UN operations PRECISELY SO that some of them are killed. It would cause him no end of trouble if SDF troops were killed supporting US wars, but a UN operation? Peacekeeping? Abe can put his black-tie on, and talk about how ‘these brave people died upholding Japanese values of protecting the weak and humanity’ (blah, blah, blah), and then have the ‘souls of the dead’ interred at Yasakuni!

      That’s the real goal; restore the ‘rightful’ place of Shinto in the Japanese state by artificially manipulating events so that Abe can cram it down peoples throats with the straw-man that those opposed are against world-peace.

      Japan is over.
      Things aren’t going to get better.
      Despite Abe’s new goal of increasing GDP by 20%, it will never happen; it’s impossible;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/30/business/economy-business/abes-¥600-trillion-gdp-goal-called-impossible/

      Abe’s and the LDP’s failure to seriously address Japan’s real economic problems have left Japan unattractive as an option for NJ who have been keeping themselves informed. The only NJ still interested are the ones who never read the news. Asia’s future is China. And Japan will hate it, resent it, and struggle as much as it can against it, and all the while just continue it’s counter-productive entitlement victim whine, which is so unattractive. Hence why japan’s record budget to ‘explain’ Japan us stupid NJ is failing; the Japanese don’t understand that you can’t bully and insult the world into loving you.*

      But maybe that’s the point? Maybe the Japanese powers that be already know all this, and are just setting things up as a self-fulfilling prophecy so that (as Abe said in his 70th anniversary denials speech) japan yet against has an excuse to behave as inhumanely as it wants because, after all, the world isn’t fair, and those nasty NJ are ganging up on it?

      * Think Japanese officials bullying academics for textbook revisions, and bullying US government officials over Korean sex-slave memorials.

    20. mdo7 Says:

      @19 JDG,

      “It’s not only that Japanese classes are closing in the US, but also in the UK;

      Why?
      Reforms of the education system and cost cutting. But note, Japanese gets cut, Chinese doesn’t. Why? Well maybe because China is outperforming Japan.”

      Not to go off topic Jim. But I think Chinese may probably get cut next year given the Chinese economy look no longer promising and now a lot of foreign companies are fleeing China for the last few months:

      http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/12/investing/china-funds-outflows/

      http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2015/02/09/twice-as-many-expatriates-leaving-china-than-arriving-moving-company-says/

      http://www.businessinsider.com/capital-is-fleeing-china-2015-8?IR=T

      So I think Chinese will probably get cut or reduced in the UK. So I don’t put my hope that Chinese language enrollment will go up in the UK (not unless Taiwan can make their pop culture widely available in the UK and it got popular like their Korean counterpart, that could keep Chinese language from declining).

      “Such a shame after all the money spent on ‘cool Japan’. I guess manga and anime just aren’t enough for the kids of today to travel abroad for- they want useful real world skills.”

      You know what’s more humiliating, I’ve remember reading a interesting thread on Quora about why Japanese-Americans (and probably Japanese Brazilians) particularly 4th and 5th generation Nikkei aren’t studying the Japanese language despite all the anime and manga (and it’s popularity) coming out in the US:

      https://www.quora.com/Why-dont-American-born-Japanese-learn-Japanese

      And yet as my previous post mention, there are now 3rd generation Korean Americans which had little contact with Korean culture now taking Korean language class, and it’s all because of K-pop and K-drama and yet anime and manga failed to do that to 4th and 5th generation Japanese Americans.

      Here’s another interesting case (slightly related to Japan) that’ll make you wonder: Do you know about Korean immigration to Mexico in the early 20th century due to the Japanese occupation:

      https://youtu.be/SQoJX5ugJ9k

      Like current Japanese Americans, many generation later these descendants (3rd and 4th generation) of first generation Korean-Mexican had little contact with Korean culture nor learn the language. But this all change when the Hallyu/Korean Wave took over all of Latin/South America and that include Mexico:

      http://www.soompi.com/2011/07/08/kpop-in-south-america-why-so-famous/

      http://congress.aks.ac.kr/korean/files/2_1357264037.pdf

      After that, the 3rd and 4th generation (and maybe 5th gen) Korean Mexicans just “re-awakened” and re-discover their Korean roots and wanted to know about the Korean culture and also learn the language. I read an article from 2012 about 33 descendants of the first generation of Korean-Mexican that came to Mexico visited Seoul to trace their root.

      http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2011/07/05/73/0701000000AEN20110705002100315F.HTML

      http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2957793&cloc=rss%7Cnews%7Cjoongangdaily

      So Debito, Jim; here’s the question: Why and how did anime and manga failed to motivate 4th and 5th generation Japanese Americans (and Japanese Brazilians) to not study Japanese, yet when K-pop and K-dramas were able to get 3rd generation Korean Americans, 3rd and 4th generation Korean Mexicans to studied Korean, and re-discovered their ethnic root?

    21. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Mdo7 #20

      Thank you for that interesting and insightful post! There was a lot of interesting new information, a lot of which I will have to review and re-process several times to try and spot all the different angles.

      However, having read it once, I would offer this as an answer to your question;
      ‘Why and how did anime and manga failed to motivate 4th and 5th generation Japanese Americans (and Japanese Brazilians) to not study Japanese, yet when K-pop and K-dramas were able to get 3rd generation Korean Americans, 3rd and 4th generation Korean Mexicans to studied Korean, and re-discovered their ethnic root?’

      The 4th and 5th generation Japanese Americans may have had (or their parents may have had) enough contact with the ‘homeland’ and all of it’s oppressive social rules, combined with the ‘othering’ of ‘oh, you don’t speak Japanese?7, or ‘you don’t know what ***** is?’, or ‘you are just like an American! So (direct/selfish/individualistic/etc)’ that they have learnt their lesson; their life in America is freer and better, and their American cultural norms tell them that the reality of Japan is not liberal or humanistic, and no amount of ‘wa’ blood can over-ride their American cultural norms. They see Japan as a little bit backward, weird, and regressive the same way I do. And, of course, they likely know that the right-wing embarrasses Japan internationally. It’s all a big turn-off.

      On the other hand, 4th and 5th generation Koreans aren’t biased by, nor burdened by their Koreas international image since Korea is a low-profile nation until recently eclipsed by Japan in the minds of western culture. And unlike Japan, Koreas image is about fun and play! Music and movies (with english subs). Korea projects none of the unattractive power obsession that Japan foists onto the world in it’s demands for acceptance.

      Korea also doesn’t have a record of paying 4th and 5th generation immigrant workers to ‘go home’ when their economy turned sour after Lehman’s. That was a massive own-goal for Japan.

    22. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Jim “korea projects none of the unattractive power obsession that Japan foists onto the world”. Dont be naive, what do you think President Park is doing talking to the US congress? They believe it is their turn now, at Japan’s expense. The 2 nations are quite similar in many cultural habits though they may deny it.
      Actually, “Korea is Number 1” is a national mantra. According to this, did you know that Jesus was a Korean? The first humans evolved in Korea? Every time I meet a Korean tourist, they let me know in the first sentence that they are FROM KOREA. E.g. “Excuse me, where is the airport? I have to go back to KOREA.” If I keep talking to them, inevitably some nationalistic topic will crop up like how Asiana has the best pilots (no way) or how Koreans do not get SARS because of the Kimchee.

      That last one sounds a bit like how Japanese radiation is special. But you get my point. I usually like Jim’s posts, but please do not give Team Korea a free pass just because they are not Japan.

      There is plenty of anti NJ discrimination going on in Korea- just google “Anti English Spectrum” for one weird example.

      And when I worked in HR in Japan I used to get plenty of desperate applications from Korea to Japan, not the other way around. Reasons given were usually not being paid-contracts meaning nothing, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination.

      Under Abe, Japan has become more like that side of Korea.

    23. Baudrillard Says:

      Laugh at Gackt again “Gackt turned his sights on Japan’s own efforts to support its creative works.

      “With Byung-hun Lee cast as the villain in the new Terminator movie, we can see how the South Korean government is continuing to firmly push their culture.”

      So let me get this straight. A Korean actor plays a shape shifting robot in a science fiction movie, and that promotes Korean culture? What, does he fight Arnold Schwartznegger with Kimchee or in traditional Korean dress or something? Probably 95 % of the audience are not going to say “Hey, that actor is Korean”. They arent going to care. Only Koreans (and Gackt and his ilk) are going to make nationality of a bit part actor a talking point of the movie.

      And I dont know, but is the S Korean Govt funding Terminator Genisys? Reminds me of a J nationalist who tried to sell us on the idea that “Terminator was a Japanese movie” because a Japanese company was involved in the funding.

      Really weird, warped nationalistic thinking that just deserves to be laughed in the face of.

    24. mdo7 Says:

      @ Baudrillard

      ““With Byung-hun Lee cast as the villain in the new Terminator movie, we can see how the South Korean government is continuing to firmly push their culture.”

      So let me get this straight. A Korean actor plays a shape shifting robot in a science fiction movie, and that promotes Korean culture? What, does he fight Arnold Schwartznegger with Kimchee or in traditional Korean dress or something? Probably 95 % of the audience are not going to say “Hey, that actor is Korean”. They arent going to care. Only Koreans (and Gackt and his ilk) are going to make nationality of a bit part actor a talking point of the movie.”

      Sorry if I go off topic again Debito, but I have to clarify this. Actually he’s not the only Korean actors in Hollywood, more Korean actors/actresses like Ha Ji Won, Claudia Kim So-Hyun, Choi Min Sik, Rain, and other have became more common:

      http://www.koreatimesus.com/are-korean-actors-really-getting-popular-in-hollywood/

      Last year another Korean actress, Go Ah Sung has signed under Hollywood:

      http://www.kdramastars.com/articles/48286/20141028/go-ah-sung-is-the-next-hallyu-star-to-be-courted-by-hollywood.htm

      http://www.kpopherald.com/view.php?ud=201410271326397592577_2

      Meanwhile, I only see three Japanese actors crossover to Hollywood (Ken Wantanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, and Tadanobu Asano). I don’t see other big name Japanese actors having that same thought while other Korean actors/actresses have expressed interest of crossing over to Hollywood.

      “That last one sounds a bit like how Japanese radiation is special. But you get my point. I usually like Jim’s posts, but please do not give Team Korea a free pass just because they are not Japan.”

      Well regarding South Korea, there may be some issue ( I won’t denied that). But at least they improved over South Korea when it comes to supporting multicultural families:

      http://www.korea.net/AboutKorea/Society/Transformation-Multicultural-Society

      http://english.seoul.go.kr/policy-information/international-exchange/multicultural-family-support-project/

      http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20141229000958

      That’s not something you would see in Japan or Tokyo. As a matter of fact, I never seen the Japanese (or Tokyo metropolitan) government setting up something like this. I’m not sure if Japan has ever made a talk show like non-Summit:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Summit

      Non-Summit is a Korean talk show which made up of non-Korean foreigners and yes the language is in Korean, and not in English. They talked about various issues in South Korea, I’m not sure if they talked about racism/discrimination. But this show is very popular in South Korea:

      http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2994646

      I don’t think you’ll ever see a show like this in Japan. As a matter of fact, non-summit format was adapted for a Chinese and Turkish version. But yet no Japanese remake/adaptation format version of this. If Japan made a show like this and put foreigner on there, the right-wing nutjob and zaitokukai would threaten the station for making a show like non-summit.

      I’m not even sure if Japan ever done a show like KBS’s My Neighbor, Charles:

      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMf7VY8La5RHZ0oBXCxhCOaHrazM8r0V0

      Has Japan ever done a reality show that showed the hardship of foreigners living in Japan? If they didn’t, then there’s a big difference between Japan and South Korea.

      — Japan once broadcast a show called Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Nihonjin, showing NJ residents talking about issues in Japanese, to good ratings. It was often used as a way to “other” those NJ panelists (by offsetting them with J tarento), but it was a show. I know it kinda well.

    25. mdo7 Says:

      “— Japan once broadcast a show called Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Nihonjin, showing NJ residents talking about issues in Japanese, to good ratings. It was often used as a way to “other” those NJ panelists (by offsetting them with J tarento), but it was a show. I know it kinda well.”

      Oh, I wasn’t aware that Japan had a show that pre-dated non-Summit, and My neighbor, Charles. Thank you for that link, Debito.

    26. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrillard #22

      No doubt you are correct, but I wasn’t talking about Japan and Koreas attitudes to NJ in general, but Mdo7’s point about why even Japanese Americans are turning their nose up at Japan and Japanese compared to Korean Mexicans and Korean language study.

      To be clear, my point is that if your cultural and social identity and values ‘American’, it doesn’t matter how much ‘japanese blood’ you have, Japan will seem as equally unattractive, oppressive, broken, nepotistic, insecure, angry, resentful, spiteful, ridiculous, fascist, and unfair to you, as it does to me.

      Maybe ok for Japanese Anericans to go on holiday to visit family or play, but actually invest the time and money in learning the language and going to live there? No, they are not doing that.

    27. Baudrillard Says:

      Hi MDO, but its the Korea Times writing about Koreans. http://www.koreatimesus.com/are-korean-actors-really-getting-popular-in-hollywood/

      It strikes me as the same as the Japanese media claiming overseas “Japanese” if they are famous, and proves my point that Japan and Korea act quite similarly in this respect.

      No one else cares. It is just like how Hollywood makes a “Chinese version” of Iron Man 3, which includes Chinese characters in Chinese settings for that market.

      China therefore arguably has more soft power than Korea, its a much bigger market. That means more than just having a few actors whose names we cannot care to remember appearing in movies (and never as the lead, its just to make Hollywood appear more “multicultural”, arguably).

      Finally, the fact that we are all getting so pent up about Hollywood illusions and celebrating essentially non entities shows how we are ourselves mesmerized by this Post Modern Theatre of Distraction.

    28. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Jim, #26, Koreans are equally obsessed with K blood etc. I propose that the simple reason Korean Americans are studying Korean now is that the K pop fad is popular and by extension they believe they can be socially cool or popular, plus a lot of the English language teachers post college for a one year contract in Korea are ethnic Koreans.

      Japan was cool in the 80s and 90s, less so now. The more recent “Cool Japan” was just wishful thinking by Taro Asso’, and it never really translated overseas much, as seen by Gackt’s whingeings on the issue (as if we care).

      “Whatever that means”. “As if we care” Frankly this whole thread is starting to sound like the self wishful thinking/wish fulfillment of Matsuda Seiko or Utada Hikaru in America. The former wept crocodile tears for the J Media on her return to Japan as she didn’t “make it” there.
      The latter cried racism when her records didnt sell in the US as much as she wanted.

      I have an inside source from Toshiba who told me that the staff were all rather tired of Utada’s unrealistic and constant demands for them to push her product more in America, but they humored her nonetheless. I suppose they put it down as a tax write off.

      Matsuda had her own apologists at the time- spin doctors or Japanese Americans who took it upon themselves to “enlighten” any NJ who would listen that “hey, guess again. Matsuda Seiko was number one of the e.g. “US west coast gay disco hi energy club chart” or some such minor,non billboard chart.

      Lets out these lame attempts at oneupmanship for what they are- utterly unimportant in the bigger scheme of things.

      They just illustrate the relative unimportance, impotence, insecurity, and identity crisis of 2 American satellite states in E. Asia to claim how “accepted” they are in the social media of the dominating power. K pop, and J pop all kowtow to American pop culture, basically a wide scale jettisoning of indigenous “Japanese” culture or instrumentation in favor of a saccharin, plastic, Komuro imitation of American hip hop and pop. An advanced stage of Simulacra indeed.

      A bit like communist satellite leaders in Eastern Europe trying to outdo each other and show who was the more Stalinist (except that had real political ramifications)-

      ” “It is merely one of the banal expressions of youth subculture which is common in advanced societies. “-Yoshi Kudo, a cosplay expert and observer, who is at times frustrated by the sensationalism that often accompanies descriptions of the cosplay scene in Japan.”
      http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2008/07/03/fads-fuel-cosplay-boom/

      Playing spot the Korean or Japanese actor in Hollywood is much the same-it distracts people in “advanced” societies from real revolutionary change, to paraphrase Debord, and like the Simulacra, are signs which merely refer to other signs, not to real political change or e.g. Korea and Japan overtaking each other in any real battle.

      There is nothing to be won except a pat on the head like a good pet dog from their master. Well done, you too can be assimilated into the machine that is Hollywood,

    29. Baudrillard Says:

      @ JDG # 19, great “Japan is over” post and closing “Japan unattractive as an option for NJ who have been keeping themselves informed. The only NJ still interested are the ones who never read the news. ”

      Or the ones who are not paid in Yen (a few expats on 3 year contracts, US military).

      Yes indeed, it could well be all a self fulfilling prophecy to find an excuse for j military action (with US acquiescence) as the world is ganging up on “poor, misunderstood” Japan again.

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