Cool Japan

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Cool Japan (クールジャパン, Kūru Japan) is a marketing term adopted by the government of Japan as well as Japanese trade bodies seeking to exploit aspects of country's culture industry that are considered "cool".[1] Cool Japan “encompasses everything from games, manga, anime, and other forms of content, fashion, commercial products, Japanese cuisine, and traditional culture to robots, eco-friendly technologies, and other high-tech industrial products,” such as One Piece, Naruto, Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Kawaii fashion, Japanese cuisine, traditional Japanese crafts, and Bonsai plants.[1][2] Cool Japan is meant to grow the enthusiasm surrounding Japanese culture, which can lead to economic expansion through the expansion of goods and services overseas. This growth in the enthusiasm of Japanese culture is connected to Visit Japan initiatives, which are trying to attract tourists to Japan.[1] It has been described as a form of soft power, "the ability to indirectly influence behavior or interests through cultural or ideological means".[3][4] The private business sector drives the Cool Japan sector.[1] Through Cool Japan, Japan hopes to achieve its mission of being "a country That provides creative solutions to the world’s challenges." As Japan has to solve issues, such as its aging population, the current environmental and energy crisis, and "loss of communities," Japan plans to research on how to solve such issues as "an opportunity for Japan’s future success." [5]


Following the destruction of World War II after American bombings, Japan was very poor, due to serious unemployment and shortages in food, clothing, and housing, and looked to America as an aspiring country from many Japanese people. Therefore, American mass media was very popular in Japan, such as Blondie, Father Knows Best, and I Love Lucy. However, starting from the 1970's, Japan lost interest in Western mass media, as Japan's economy grew rapidly in the 1960's. During this time period, Japan created its own pop culture, which was a mix of different countries' pop and consumer cultures. [6]

Starting in 1980, following the emergence of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japan began to increase its nation branding efforts through the release of a television series titled Oshin, a Japanese soap opera. Oshin was distributed at no cost outside of Japan, and was well received in forty-six countries. Through the success of Oshin and multiple other television shows, Japan successfully established the idea of "Cool Japan" as a method of establishing and improving the country's cultural perception.[7]

However, after the crash of the 1990's bubble, Japan faced a recession that was hard recover due to harsh competition. Korea advanced in the steel, automotive, and electronics industry, US led the way in the IT revolution in the mid-1990's, and China industrialized rapidly during the 21st century. Despite the recession, Nintendo, PlayStation, Hello Kitty, Pokemon and Tamagotchi were penetrating the mass media market in Japan and abroad. The anime Spirited Away directed by Hayao Miyazaki won the Academy Awards and showed the world that anime and animation as a whole was not only for children but can be suitable for a more mature audience.[6]

In 2002, American Journalist Douglas McGray wrote an article "Japan's Gross National Cool" in the journal Foreign Affairs, which stated Japan as a "cultural superpower" almost to the point that they were "reinventing superpower" and helped increased Japan confidence in their national identity. [6][8][9][10] Surveying youth culture and the role of J-pop, manga, anime, video games, fashion, film, consumer electronics, architecture, cuisine, and phenomena of kawaii ("cuteness") such as Hello Kitty, McGray highlighted Japan's considerable cultural soft power,term coined by Joseph Nye, posing the question of what message the country might project.[6][8][9][10] He also argued that Japan's recession may even have boosted its national cool, due to the partial discrediting of erstwhile rigid social hierarchies and big-business career paths.[8][9][10] In May 2003, "Theory on Founding Japan through Culture” in Chuokoron, a leading opinion magazine issued a translation of the McGray's article and popularized the term japan culu (“Japan Cool”) and culu japan (“Cool Japan”).[6]

Japan aimed to improve both the nation's economy and its national image through the distribution of Japanese pop culture on an international scale, specifically throughout Eastern Asia, in order to improve their reputation and strengthen alliances with neighboring countries. This soft power strategy was implemented in sharp contrast to the Japan's historical status as a militaristic power.[7]


Taken up in the international media, with The New York Times running a retrospect "Year in Ideas: Pokémon Hegemon",[11] an increasing number of more reform-minded government officials and business leaders in Japan began to refer to the country's "gross national cool" and to adopt the unofficial slogan "Cool Japan".[12][13][14] In a 2005 press conference, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs linked the idea to Bhutan's concept of Gross National Happiness.[15]

The phrase gained greater exposure in the mid-noughties as NHK began a series Cool Japan Hakkutsu: Kakkoii Nippon! which by the end of 2009 had reached over a hundred episodes.[16] Academic initiatives include the establishment of a "Cool Japan" research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[17] while some western universities have reported an increase in the number of applicants for Japanese Studies courses due to the "cool" effect.[18]

The adoption of Cool Japan has also spurred changes in culture studies. As a result of the fascination of Cool Japan with Japanese youth culture and schoolgirls, a new wave of studies called 'girl studies' focuses specifically on the experience of girls and the girls-at-heart. Previously a subject of adolescent psychology or feminism, girl studies emerged from Cool Japan to include an interdisciplinary analysis of girl culture.[19]

Cabinet Offices[edit]

Intellectual Property Headquarters[edit]

“Intellectual Property Strategy Outline” by the Intellectual Property Council in July 2002 decided to support high quality content and protection of intellectual property. The General Policy Speech to the 156th Session of the Diet in January 2003, Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister mentioned Spirited Away as serious cultural product, which meant that anime as a whole was considered with the same weight. In March 2003, the Fundamental Law of Intellectual Property was created and, in July of the same year, Intellectual Property Headquarters was made in the Cabinet Office. The Working Group on Contents was created by the Intellectual Property Headquarters to discuss problems in the Japanese media industry, from October 2003 and nine meetings were held by 2007. In 2004, “The Policy for Promotion of Content Business: National Strategy in the Age of Soft Power” stated that the Japanese media industry needed to be the center of national strategy because the industry had a big market with significant impact in supporting other industries and on being a soft power. The report also emphasized how the media industry did not make "sufficient returns", due to the US, Korea, and China having a strong hold in the media industry, despite Europe supporting the Japanese media industry.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry[edit]

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) supports the Japanese media industry through The Media and Content Industry Division at the Commerce and Information Policy Bureau created in 2001, which aims to grow the Japanese media industry market abroad. METI worked with Japan Business Federation (JBF) to created the report “Toward the Promotion of Entertainment Content Industry,” in order to expand the Japanese media industry within Japan after the Entertainment Content Industry Section Meeting in 2003. The Content Overseas Distribution Association, a private organization created in 2002 to promote legal distribution of intellectual property, created the CJ Mark in 2005 to help creators protect their intellectual property. The Japan External Trade Organization protects small Japanese media companies abroad.[6] METI started Nippon Quest, a website to showcase and disseminate unknown Japanese regional specialties to the world, in 2015.[20]

Creative Industries Promotion Office[edit]

The Japanese government has identified the culture industry as one of five potential areas of growth.[21] In June 2010, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established a new Creative Industries Promotion Office to promote cultural and creative industries as a strategic sector "under the single, long term concept of "Cool Japan", to coordinate different government functions, and to cooperate with the private sector".[22] The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that Japanese pop culture is one of the key elements for Cool Japan and that pop culture includes idol, anime, and B class gourmet (B級グルメ).[23]

The deputy director described its mission as to "brand Japanese products with the uniqueness of Japanese culture".[24][25] For 2011, it has a budget of ¥19 billion.[25] In fiscal 2008, public spending on cultural activities was ¥116.9 billion in South Korea, ¥477.5 billion in China, and ¥101.8 billion in Japan, respectively 0.79%, 0.51%, and 0.12% of total government spending.[24] The fund was launched in 2013,[26] and the Japanese government committed to the Cool Japan Fund ¥50 billion ($500 million) over 20 years, with a target of ¥60 billion ($600 million) via private investor partnerships.[27] However, Nikkei Asian Review reported that within five years the fund "suffered pretax losses totaling 10 billion yen ($88.9 million)" and many projects failed to deliver earnings, and since June 2018 the management is led by former Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) CEO Naoki Kitagawa.[28][29]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs[edit]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) supported The World Cosplay Summit, hosted by TV Aichi in Nagoya, on 2003. In 2007, the International MANGA Awards was created, which honored a non-Japanese mangaka (manga creator) who helped spread this medium abroad. In 2008, MOFA appointed Doraemon as the nationʼs first “anime ambassador” (anime taishi). In 2009, three women were appointed as the first kawaii ambassadors (kawaii taishi). These ambassadors are meant to spread Japanese popular culture overseas by attending "cultural projects."

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism[edit]

Cool Japan has tried to increase interest in foreigners touring Japan.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) created the “Global Tourism Strategy” to further push the “Visit Japan Campaign," which appointed Puffy AmiYumi as the ambassadors to the US in 2005. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi featured Puffy AmiYumi as cartoon charecters in Cartoon Network helped grow its US fanbase. In 2006, MILT, along with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), decided to invest 67 million yen into a project based on the “Research on Regional Vitalization through International Tourism Exchange Using Japanese Anime” which was offering tours of places in Japan based on popular anime. Akihabara has become the hub of Japanese pop culture, thanks to efforts such as “New Discovery of Akihabara Tour,” managed mainly by the Tourism Industry Association of Japan and Akihabara Electrical Town Organization. The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) was created under The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The Tourism Nation Promotion Basic Law was made in January 2007, which led to the Tourism Nation Promotion Basic Plan in June 2007 in the effort to make Japan a tourist nation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology[edit]

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) created the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA), which held The Japan Media Arts Festival since 1997. ACA held the Symposium on Distribution of Contents to discuss the way intellectual property was being contracted and distributed since 2004. In 2009, the ACA used 11.7 billion yen to create a new National Center for Media Arts (NCMA) which was meant to be an international hub for the collection, transaction, and human resource development of media arts.[6]

Cool Japan Proposal[edit]

This proposal is based on the Cool Japan Proposal from the Cool Japan Movement Promotion Council in 2014.[5] The mission of Cool Japan is to make “Japan, a country providing creative solutions to the world’s challenges.” [5][30]

Step I: Promoting Domestic Growth[edit]

Mission A: "Acquiring skills for active communication with people overseas"

Action I: "Hold Cool Japan classes that are enjoyable for children."

In order to spread "Cool Japan", the concept of "Cool Japan" needs to be taught in schools starting from elementary school to junior high school. Students should video chat with other students in English about what is great about Japan. The government can send exceptional students overseas, in order to teach students in different countries Japanese culture.

Action 2: "Improve the Cool Japan overseas study programs."

The government should send 470 professionals, 10 people from each of the 47 prefectures, and help fund their studies. The students should enter at least three domestic or international competitions in their fields to win awards and inspire Japanese people at home.

Action 3: "Promote broadcasting using an English sub-audio channel."

By using English subtitles or sub-audio in Japanese TV shows, Japanese citizens will be able to learn English more natural and approachable.

Action 4: "Create an English-speaking district where English is the official language."

There should be a special district where English is the official language, so that Japanese people can learn English organically. Conversation in public places should be in English. The television programs are sub-audio English programs and the books and newspapers available should be in English. Companies will get tax benefits if using English is implemented heavily.

Mission B: "Removing barriers to creativity and creating the trend of taking on challenges"

Action 1: "Promote the active recruitment of young people by Japanese companies and generational succession."

Companies should be encouraged to recruit young people, and employees should be provided with an environment where creativity is nurtured. National policy should promote generational succession of jobs and dialogue within the workforce, in order to keep companies young and creative.

Action 2: "Create a system of listeners to opinions on Cool Japan."

By making Cool Japan into a national movement, people will be able to state their opinions on Cool Japan. Opinions on Cool Japan can be collected through social media or a separate website. Later, the government can allow a panel on Cool Japan, using the opinions collected through social media or a separate website.

Action 3: "Encourage creativity through deregulation."

The government should listen to suggestions on fixing regulations that blocks creativity, such as fan fiction and street performances. The government should review the Building Standards Act that hinders the use of empty lots and homes and 2006 amendments to the Architect Law that hinders young architects to earn the first-class registered architect certification.

Action 4: "Establish a Cool Japan intellectual property consultation center."

An intellectual property consultation center should control public and private ownership of intellectual property overseas and domestic. This center can also inform professionals on unused patents, consult professionals on their creative ideas, and connect different professionals and companies to create better ideas.

Mission C: "Supporting free attempts and cooperation without being restricted by a hierarchical structure or past examples"

Action 1: "Take on the challenge of new business based on creative cooperation among government offices."

The government should improve their communication among departments that work on similar projects. Inter-department communication can improve through consulting from outside sources.

Action 2: "Promote a platform for government office cooperation."

Government should provide communication that is not hierarchical but rather egalitarian, in order to speed the planning of inter-government projects. There should be greater teamwork among departments overall.

Action 3: "Support in-house entrepreneurs."

Government should support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship within Japan, especially companies willing to cooperate with other companies to produce better products. There should be encouragement in inter-departmental communication.

Action 4: "Support 100 new businesses that tackle issues facing Japan and the world."

Select and support 100 businesses that can help solve Japan's and international social issues, based on their unique solutions and determination to solve those ideas rather the current scale of the business or company. The government should support companies that are willing to work with different companies or willing to connect different companies on similar projects.

Step II: Connecting Japan and Other Countries[edit]

Mission D: "Developing a better public image of Japan in the world"

Action 1: "Establish Japan’s brand image and increase its overseas distribution."

Japan should brand themselves as a “Country That Provides Creative Solutions to the World’s Challenges”, through increasing public-private partnerships, improving international relations, increasing corporate advertising, and increasing the supply of products and services related to Japan's new brand image. Though these efforts, Japan can will empathy from other countries and use it as a diplomatic force.

Action 2: "Create a new slogan that will replace Cool Japan."

There needs to be slogan the describes 'Cool' Japan without using the word 'Cool', because using the term as to describe one's self is not cool. By being open to native English speakers and people that live inside and outside Japan, the slogan 'Cool' Japan should be replaces with a better slogan with the same meaning.

Action 3: "Disseminate the display of “Designed in Japan"."

There should be a "Designed in Japan" next to the "Made in (Manufacturing country)" for products that were designed in Japan, because many products are manufactured outside of Japan. There should be rules and regulations that will select which products will have the "Designed in Japan" mark, and there should be government practices that will spread such practice.

Action 4: "Review procurement to increase the government’s creativity."

"Creative Japan" government should be open to other ideas and should allow creative professionals to do their work without much restrictions. The government should hold planning competitions, encourage recruitment, and evaluate a company's artistic capabilities for small companies doing government work. Experts should assess how creative and impactful an idea is, in order to give more opportunity to winning ideas.

Mission E: "Increasing the mobility of information and cultural products of Japan in the international community"

Action 1: "Create Japan’s inbound web portal."

Japan should develop a web portal that is user-friendly and allows foreigners to learn about its local communities, culture, entertainment, travel, etc. The website should provide translation in multiple languages. Quantitative standards for this web portal and linked websites should be made, and the feedback from the users should help business partners developing this web portal through the PDCA cycles.

Action 2: "Translate signs at tourist sites into many languages with a pleasing appearance."

The government should use multi-lingual signs that blend with the scenery, while keeping functionality. The government should set guidelines that will encourage the managers of tourist sites to change existing signs that don't meet a certain criteria. These same criterions will be applied to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Action 3: "Support the translation of information given in Japanese."

Japanese entertainment should be multilingual so that Japanese media industry can own a greater share of the global market. It should be translated to English and other foreign languages daily for foreigners inside and outside Japan. There should be a website that posts Japanese media translated into other languages and increase the J-LOOP.[5] J-Loop ("Japan Content Localization and Promotion Support Grant") is a grant that supports Japanese media to be subtitles, dubbed, etc. and promotes Japanese media through exhibitions at international trade fairs, PR events, etc.[31]

Mission F: "Adopting overseas perspectives to discover the essential attractiveness of Japan"

Action 1: "Appoint 100 partners who have an overseas perspective."

The government should select influential 100 non-Japanese individual that have good knowledge of Japan. The suggestions of non-Japanese people regarding making Japan more attractive should be heard and be reflected in the 'Cool' Japan policy.

Action 2: "Appoint Japanese persons working in the world as ambassadors."

Japanese people in different parts of the world should be a Cool Japan ambassador, and they should share their knowledge with people within Japan. Places where Japanese people are able to exchange information and ideas with people outside of Japan can be a hub for Japan to strengthen its relationship with other countries.

Action 3: "Understand and visualize the view of Japan from other countries, and expectations from Japan."

Japanese government should analyze information from television, newspapers, magazines, websites, social media, and other sources of big data to change Japan's public image quickly, based on circumstances.

Action 4: "Analyze the demands of foreign tourists."

Japan should build a system that allows foreign tourists to have not stressful time. There should be a lot of places where WIFI is allowed so that foreign tourists can be offered information needed for their travel. There should be an app that collects foreign tourist's opinions of different tourist sites and make policies that reflect those opinions.

Step III: Becoming Japan that Helps the World[edit]

Mission G: "Personalizing the issues facing Japan and the world"

Action 1: "Visualize information on the issues facing Japan and the world."

Japan should encourage information design industries that use infographics, animation, and other creative technologies to help people visualize social issues inside and outside Japan. This can demonstrate Japan's creativity, allow other countries to communicate with Japan about similar social issues, and increase participation of stating opinions for such issues.

Action 2: "Present the government’s open data and incorporate design into government documents."

Information regarding Japan should be published using tables and figures that has gone through the editing and design process of Japanese and non-Japanese people to make it more pleasing for readers. Japanese government should raise interest about information regarding Japan itself and how it is presented.

Mission H: "Promoting industries through which Japan could contribute to the world in addressing such issues as environmental problems, a declining birthrate, and an aging population"

Action 1: "Match problem-solving projects and creativity."

There are Japanese researchers and companies that have solutions to future world problems, such as decreasing current energy supply, increasing need for green energy, aging population, and other social issues. However, these entitles are inadequate for social change due to inexperience in public relations, branding, product development, etc. These entities should be encouraged to work with consulting companies to grow bigger and change the world. The government should promote businesses and research that help other nations.

Action 2: "Create an environment for the commercialization of ideas that will contribute to the world."

There should be circle where startups should be supported and commercialize creative startup ideas.

Action 3: "Promote the overseas expansion of problem-solving businesses."

Food, digital content, nursing care, childcare, environmental problems, etc. are problems that can be solved by businesses that focus on these issues. The Japanese government can create relations with other countries in order to help overseas expansion of Japanese countries and help create solutions to the world's problem.

Mission I: "Delivering information on ancient Japanese philosophy that values sustainability and harmony"

Action 1: "Build JAPAN LABO across Japan"

JAPAN LABO should be created, in order to encourage people to produce products and goods with their own hands. The shop will have high tech equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters, as well as tools to make traditional Japanese handicrafts as pottery wheels and Japanese lacquer. By allowing people to make their own products, people will have more ways to show their creativity. The spaces that hold these facilities can be regional industrial technology centers, vacant school buildings, and houses nationwide.

Action 2: "Hold international handicrafts festivals in Japan."

Japan can rejuvenate the dying crafts industry by holding exhibitions and festivals that celebrate Japanese craftsmanship in cities such as Kyoto. These festivals and exhibitions should be of a size similar to Milano Salone in Italy for the design industry or the Paris Collection in France for the fashion industry.

Action 3: "Build a Japan design museum."

By building a museum similar to MOMA in NYC and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Japanese designs can be exchanged and discovered by many overseas professionals. These museums that allow Japanese companies to have access to material archives workshops can be an eye opener for Japanese companies and help the Japanese create high-end value products.

Action 4: "Expand Japan’s cultivation of aesthetic sentiments enjoyed by children to the world."

Positive aspects of Japanese culture such as "harmony, sustainability, and the spirit of mutual help" should be taught in schools through stories and educational materials for young children. Japanese education should promote its students to use their "aesthetic senses" into solving world problems.[5]


The Promotion of Exports of Alcoholic Beverages Produced in Japan[edit]

Sake, which has been signified as Kokushu ("National Brew"), and shochu generated 19 billion yen in 2011, which was a 60% increase from 2005. These alcoholic beverages are expected to be exported just as much as Japanese forestry, fishery, and agriculture. The US, South Korean, Hong Kong, and Taiwan market are impactful consumers of sake and shochu. However, countries like China, India, and Brazil have lower consumption of sake and shochu but have market growth potential. Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) and JETRO hold Japanese food and alcohol shows that allow the promotion of Japanese cuisine and allow Japanese businesses to conduct negotiations with other businesses. In November 2012, the International Wine and Spirits Festival presented many different Japanese sake breweries. Overseas exhibitions of Japanese breweries can provide the occasion for Japanese businesses to negotiate with foreign businesses, through the help of JETRO. Niigata Sake-no-jin (Niigata Sake Fair) and Saijo Sake Matsuri (Sake Festival) in Hagashi-Hisroshima have been quite successful in bringing tourists to try sake. The city of Kashima in Kyushu allows tourist to tour ten breweries local to the region during a two day event that attracted some 30,000 tourists into the city. [32] Sakagura tourism allows tourists to meet the sake brewer and sochu makers and taste their alcohol.[33] The locations of these tours can be seen on this external link (Click here).[34]

Despite their recognition overseas, many Japanese breweries are small or medium scale businesses, which has made Japanese alcohol very hard to export. The “Liaison Conference for the Promotion of Exports of Alcoholic Beverages Produced in Japan” was meant to discuss the export of Japanese alcoholic beverages, including Kokushu. The Promotion of Exports of Alcoholic Beverages Produced in Japan is a part of Cool Japan, which is part of the “Economic Emergency Measures to Rebuild the Japanese Economy” made in Jan 11 2013. The goals set for 2020 during this conference were:

  • Information about Japanese alcoholic beverages can be spread through Japan House and other government institutions.
  • The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO) can allow Japanese alcoholic beverages to be strategically exported to target markets.
  • Increasing the amount of experts on Japanese alcoholic beverages can help promote Japanese alcoholic beverages overseas, along with Japanese cuisine.
  • Geographical Indications (GI) System can help small regional Japanese breweries export their goods to foreign countries through government.
  • Sake can be promoted through further brewery tourism and other regional attractions.

“Issues and Response Policy for the Promotion of Exports of Alcoholic Beverages Produced in Japan” was revised in 2014, which was set as a half way point for the policy to see its full effect in 2020.[35]

Field Project 1: Animation tourism[edit]

The full name of this project is "Animation Tourism that Vitalize Regions by Connecting Places of Animation Scenes and other Regional Cool Japan Resources." This project focused on the Japanese anime industry collaborating with cities and towns used in Japanese anime. For this project, influencers and anime enthusiast were invited on a tour visiting spots that appeared in the anime "“Kimi no Na wa” (English title: “Your Name”) during a certain time frame. For example. in 2016, Thai influencers and anime enthusiasts were allowed to tour from January 24th to 28th, Malaysian and Hong Kong influencers and anime enthusiasts were allowed to tour from February 14th to 18th, Chinese influencers and anime enthusiasts were allowed to tour from February 21th to 25th, and Taiwanese influencers and anime enthusiasts were allowed to tour February 28th to March 4th. The tour visits Hida, Takayama, Gero, Shirakawa, and Tokyo.

Field Project 2: Promotion of Film[edit]

The full name of this project is "Promotion of Film Induced Tourism Collaborated by Regional Governments of Wide Area through Accommodating Demands of Overseas Contents Producers". The Tohoku-region filming locations made a database that is friendly for foreign filmmakers, based on their needs in 2016. By having foreign film crews use the filming locations in the region, small businesses in the area were to be revitalized. With a Thailand production company, the filming industry in the Tohoku-region made a broadcast informative program that showed the region.

Field Project 3: Promotion of Japanese Furniture[edit]

The full name of this project is "Promotion of Japanese Furniture and Interior Industry by Communicating Space Design". Architectural and interior design organizations worked together to show the beauty of Japanese furniture and interior design through "space design" for overseas consumers of Japanese furniture and foreign architecture and interior design experts. Also, in February 16th, 2016, launching a website in English, Japanese, and Chinese that show the beauty of Japanese commercial buildings promoted Japanese architecture and design. From February 20th to 24th in 2016, a tour for invited media companies and consumers of Japanese furniture can go on a tour looking at Japanese space design. The tour visits. Tokyo Design Center, International Design Center Nagoya, Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts, and Hida Earth Wisdom Center.

Field Project 4: B2B tours to Sake-breweries[edit]

The full name of this project is "B2B tours to Sake-breweries to realize enhanced values of Japanese Sake". Producers, distributors and retailers of sake advertised the positive aspects of sake to wealthy foreigners and export sake. From February 5th to February 6th, experts who can have an affect on sake sales, such as Rob Sinskey, winery owner in the US, Maria Sinskey, winery management and cooking expert, Dana Cowin, and Jack Tse, General Manager of the Japanese restaurant “Imasa” at The Pensinsula Hotel Hong Kong, visited “spaces for enjoying Japanese sake”. There were parties at the sake breweries in the Nagano prefecture.[36] The tour consisted of visiting the following sites: [37][36]

  • The Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center in Tokyo
  • Sudohonke, a sake brewery, in Ibaraki
  • Matsubay-Ahonten, a sake brewery, in Nagano
  • Okazaki Brewery in Nagano
  • Masuichi-Ichimura Sake Brewery in Nagano
  • Retail store in Hasegawa Saketen

Field Project 5: Establishing “Gastronomy Manifesto”[edit]

The full name of this project is "Establishing “Gastronomy Manifesto” through Collaboration between Food and Local Industries, Etc". Chefs, agriculture, tourism, education, and local governments promoted Japanese cuisine based on the “Gastronomy Manifesto," which describes the code of conduct on how Japanese food should be treated. Local governments, Japan Gibier Promotion Association, and educational institutes held a discussion about the effects of a “Gastronomy Manifesto" in January 21th, 2016. Japanese food culture was discussed in the Yamagata prefecture on February 20th with guest speaker Gabriella Morini, Assistant Professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, and in Tokyo on February 23th with guest speaker Greg Drescher, Vice President of The Culinary Institute of America, and Gabriella Morini.

Field Project 6: Establishment of a cutting-edge design lab[edit]

The full name of this project is "Establishment of a Cutting-Edge Design Lab that Merge Technology with Design". One of the goals for this project was to help Japanese companies and educational institutions collaborate and share more information together. On February 17th, 2016, workshops were created to spread technological advances to other parts of Japanese society. Also, in order to produce more creative products, experts inside and outside Japan worked together to produce products in a design lab. Small groups, consisting of members from Royal College of Art and The University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science, worked on various problems, such as such as those associated with an ageing society and energy, in micro labs. On February 28th in the same year, the results from the micro-labs were presented and people who specialized in industry, government and other academia were able to be network with each other.

Field Project 7: Utilization of Urban Cool Japan Talent and Regional Cool Japan Resources[edit]

The full name of this project is "Utilization of Urban Cool Japan Talent and Regional Cool Japan Resources for Effective Promotion of Rural Area Attractions". One of the goals was that Rural area students should learn how to speak a foreign language so that they are able to spread Japan's attractiveness to other countries. Another goals was that urban areas should focus on human resource development and communication that can show the attractiveness of rural Japan. In order to reach these goals, establishing regional navigator schools in the Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho area can help Japanese people with proficiency in foreign languages spread the positive aspects of Japanese culture overseas. The navigator schools had its students tour guide sake related tourist locations in Marunouchi from February 15th to 16th and Niigata from February 25th to 26th in 2016.[36]

Other Cool Japan Events for 2016[edit]

Other Cool Japan events for 2016 can be seen on this external link. (Click here)[38]

Japan Media Arts Festival[edit]

Japan Media Arts Festival, started in 1997, presents media arts (Media Geijutsu), such as animation, comics, games, and other art forms.There were 3,566 entries from 107 countries and regions in the world in its 23rd event. There are four awards given out each year, one each category: art, entertainment, animation, and manga. Symposiums, screenings, and showcases are held as well as an annual Exhibition of Award-winning Works.[39]

Cool Japan Fund[edit]

Cool Japan fund is a fund run by both government and private investors that invests in products and services that help "Cool" Japan, such as media, food and services, and fashion and lifestyle. The investments are separated into Outbound Investment which supports Japanese businesses abroad, Inbound Investment which supports foreign businesses in Japan, and Domestic Investment which helps expand currently small domestic businesses, all focused on "B2C", "overseas expansion" and "spillover effect".[40] [41] The "spillover effect" is the power to affect abroad consumers, which can open a new market abroad to Japanese goods and services. The "spillover effect" can also mean the collaboration of various companies and industries.[42]



  • The global financial crisis in 2008 brought negative effects towards the manufacturing sector, including the auto and electronics industries, which drove Japan's economy for decades. [43]


  • METI funded 13 Cool Japan Projects in the United States, France, China, South Korea, Singapore, Brazil, Italy and India.[44]


  • During a panel discussion in March 28, experts stated that the government should mediate the collaboration of different businesses and learn how businesses in South Korea collaborate. [45]



  • Traditional Japanese crafts showcased at Maison & Objet, the world's largest trade fair for interior goods and designs, to promote Japan's monodzukuri (manufacturing) culture.[46]
  • WakuWaku Japan, Japanese satellite television channel that broadcasts Japanese programs to overseas viewers in Asia.[26] It was a joint venture with broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT who contributed ¥6.6 billion out of ¥11 billion, but it failed to expand in multiple markets and generate viewership, with nearly ¥4 billion losses until 2017.[29]


  • METI starts Nippon Quest, a website to showcase and disseminate unknown Japanese regional specialties to the world.[20]
  • U.S. cafes focused on Japanese tea, on which was spent ¥250 million for nearly 50% stake.[29]
  • Funding of the development of content creators for anime and manga outside Japan by KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd.[47]



  • The first investment with new management was $12.5 million in Tastemade, becoming a minority shareholder, to support making of content promoting Japanese food and destinations.[28]


  • Cool Japan Fund invests US$30 million in American anime licensing company Sentai Holdings, aiming to provide support at the copyright level, and increasing the presence of anime in North America.[49]


Anime has seen decline in sales, peaking at at ¥16 billion in 2006, due to the increased use of video sharing sites. In 2010, anime shares have fallen to ¥9.2 billion. There are small profit margins in the anime and cultural media business. Hidenori Oyama, an executive at Toei Animation Co., states “It’s crucial for anime (firms) to engage in the content-related product business or copyright business to make a profit. Otherwise, we can’t earn enough to create the next anime content.”[50]

A 2010 editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun argued that the government was not doing enough to advance the country's business interests in this sphere, allowing South Korea to emerge as a competitor. The editorial highlighted structural inefficiencies, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry promoting "Cool Japan", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for cultural exchange, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in charge of Japanese foods.[51][52][53] Lecturer Roland Kelts has also suggested that a failure to fully distinguish, brand and engage the overseas audience and market may mean that "Cool Japan" is "over".[54][55] According to Saeko Tani, the chief administrator of Creative Industries Division, there are many small and medium sized companies that struggle expanding globally. According to Saeko Tani, the chief administrator of Creative Industries Division, there are many small and medium sized companies that struggle expanding globally. If there are no supporting platforms in foreign market, it is very hard to have a profitable business in those markets, despite the popularity of Japanese culture. Therefore, small companies need to work with department stores, shopping malls, and other platform companies overseas to expand their sales in foreign markets.[50]

In 2011, Laura Miller has critiqued Cool Japan campaign as exploiting and misrepresenting youth subcultural fashion and language.[56] In 2013, Nancy Snow referred to Cool Japan as a form of state-sponsored cultural retreading she calls Gross National Propaganda.[57] Japanese singer-songwriter Gackt criticized the government in 2015 for having set up a huge budget, yet "have no idea where that money should go. It's no exaggeration to say it has fallen into a downward spiral of wasted tax money flowing into little known companies", and that such lack of support is causing Japan to "fall behind its Asian neighbors in terms of cultural exports".[58][26] In 2016, Benjamin Boas pointed out that Cool Japan-branded efforts are often promoted without participation of foreigners, leaving out the perspectives of the very foreigners that they are trying to target.[59]

In 2017, a senior executive and several other senior male employees of Cool Japan Fund Inc. were accused of sexual harassment targeting female employees of the fund.[60] The employees formed a labor union in order to fight against sexual harassment.[60] In the same year, Nikkei Asian Review journalist Yuta Saito criticized fund's ambitions because their "lack of strategy, discipline gives rise to unprofitable projects", and there's possible conflict of interest by the executives.[29] In 2018, Japan Today reported too soon to consider it "grossly incompetent or corrupt", but it's at least "under-performing" for now.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Cool Japan Strategy Public-Private Collaboration Initiative, Cool Japan Strategy Promotion Council, Cabinet Office, 2015,
  2. ^ Cool Japan Initiative, Intellectual Property Headquarters, Cabinet Office, 2020
  3. ^ Yano, Christine R. (2009). "Wink on Pink: Interpreting Japanese Cute as It Grabs Global Headlines". The Journal of Asian Studies. 68 (3): 681–688 [683]. doi:10.1017/s0021911809990015. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  4. ^ Nagata, Kazuaki, Exporting culture via 'Cool Japan', The Japan Times, 15 May 2012, p. 3
  5. ^ a b c d e Cool Japan Proposal, Cool Japan Movement Promotion Council, Nosigner, 2014,
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Matsui, Takeshi. “NATION BRANDING THROUGH STIGMATIZED POPULAR CULTURE: THE ‘COOL JAPAN’ CRAZE AMONG CENTRAL MINISTRIES IN JAPAN.” Hitotsubashi Journal of Commerce and Management, vol. 48, no. 1 (48), 2014, pp. 81–97. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Dec. 2020.
  7. ^ a b Iwabuchi, Koichi (8 August 2015). "Pop-culture diplomacy in Japan: soft power, nation branding and the question of 'international cultural exchange'". International Journal of Cultural Policy. 21 (4): 419–432. doi:10.1080/10286632.2015.1042469. ISSN 1028-6632. S2CID 143257452.
  8. ^ a b c McGray, Douglas (1 May 2002). "Japan's Gross National Cool". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 16 December 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b c McGray, Douglas (1 May 2002). "Japan's Gross National Cool (subscription required)". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Allison, Anne (5 October 2007). "J-brand: What image of youth is getting sold in Japan's "gross national cool"?" (PDF). University of California, Berkeley. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  11. ^ Talbot, Margaret (15 December 2002). "The Year in Ideas; Pokemon Hegemon". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
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  13. ^ Faiola, Anthony (27 December 2003). "Japan's Empire of Cool". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  14. ^ Frederick, Jim (4 August 2003). "Forget about salarymen, gridlocked politics and zombie corporations". Time. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
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  17. ^ "Cool Japan Research Project". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  18. ^ Corbyn, Zoe (5 October 2007). ""Cool Japan" suffers from cruel cuts". The Times. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
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  26. ^ a b c d e "After four years Cool Japan is Y4.4 bil in the hole and continuing to show few results". Japan Today. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  27. ^ Kelts, Roland (9 July 2013). "Can METI's ¥50 billion fund unfreeze 'Cool Japan'?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  28. ^ a b Yuji Nitta (24 October 2018). "Cool Japan Fund invests $12.5m in Tastemade food video service". Nikkei Asian Review. The Nikkei. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d Yuta Saito (6 November 2017). "Cool Japan Fund's big ambitions mostly fall flat". Nikkei Asian Review. The Nikkei. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  30. ^ Cool Japan Strategy Public-Private Collaboration Initiative, Cool Japan Strategy Promotion Council, Cabinet Office, 2015,
  31. ^ "ジャパン・コンテンツ ローカライズ&プロモーション支援助成金(J-LOP)". 【VIPO】映像産業振興機構 (in Japanese). Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  32. ^ Ishii, Hiroaki et al., Efforts to Promote Japanese Alcoholic Drinks to Global Consumers, National Policy Unit, JETRO, 2013,
  33. ^ "Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association". Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  34. ^ "SAKAGURA Tourism". Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  35. ^ Alcoholic Beverages Produced in Japan, Cool Japan Movement Promotion Council, Cabinet Office, 2013,
  36. ^ a b c Review Session for the Establishment of Hubs for Cool Japan, Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, Cabinet Office, 2016,
  37. ^ "Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center | Go to | Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association". Retrieved 13 December 2020.
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  39. ^ "About". JAPAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL (in Japanese). Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  40. ^ "クールジャパン機構とは | クールジャパン機構について | クールジャパン機構". Retrieved 14 December 2020.
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  43. ^ "Exporting the Attractions of "Cool Japan" | June 2020 | Highlighting Japan". Retrieved 21 November 2020.
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  45. ^ Nagata, Kazuaki (15 May 2012). "Exporting culture via 'Cool Japan'". The Japan Times. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  46. ^ "Traditional Japanese Crafts will be Showcased to the World as a Result of the Cool Japan Initiative". 経済産業省 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
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  48. ^ "Cool Japan Fund drops Malaysia store". 12 June 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
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  53. ^ Yasumoto, Seiko (2006). "Japan and Korea as a Source of Media and Cultural Capital" (PDF). University of Sydney. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
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External links[edit]