Pop culture subcommittee formed to show world ‘Cool Japan’

TOKYO —

The Cool Japan Promotion Conference and Pop Culture Subcommittee has been assembled to discuss and strategise ways to encourage growth in Japan’s popular culture sector. The session dealt with all of Japan’s notable influences around the world from Gundams to soccer.

One day prior to the conference, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had stressed about the Cool Japan Initiative, “A long time ago the exports made by Japan in the realm of pop-culture was limited to the televised drama ‘Oshin’ but has now grown to everything from AKB to Nadeshiko [women’s national soccer team]. I want this success to endure.”

The subcommittee was conceived by Chairman Ichiya Nakamura, Graduate School Professor at Keio University.

One plan being considered under the Cool Japan Initiative was to select “International Pop Culture Zones.” These areas would receive tax breaks for the production of anime, manga, and related merchandise.

Okinawa and Kyoto were granted this designation but will have to wait and see if it’s feasible for them to get the economic benefits of it.

Also, the subcommittee will appoint a team of Pop-Culture Ambassadors who will accompany Prime Minister Abe to international conferences, give a promotional “Pop Culture Declaration,” and probably make me chuckle like a moron in the process.

Synthetic voice software character (vocaloid) Hatsune Miku was reported to be on the ballot as well as a Mobile Suit Gundam. A vote is to be held in which the top five characters will receive the appointment.

The Cool Japan Initiative is still in its early stages so it’s likely we’ll see more pop-culture programs in the future.

Source: MSN Sankei News

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  • -1

    Ewan Huzarmy

    This, coming from a country that launches an internet meme three months too late.

  • 5

    LiveInTokyo

    Is this real? Whenever I go back to my home country I never see any of this stuff. Whenever I talk to friends who live in the US, they tell me they don't see it either. I went to the Animation Fair at Big Sight last month and talked to several developers there who told me the same thing, that's it's only the "geek" types who are interested in Cool Japan.

    With these comments I honestly believe the minister is just trying to prop up an ailing initiative, or more probably an initiative that doesn't really exist.

  • 1

    Probie

    Japan isn't cool. Crap like this appeals only to the wapanese and cartoon fanbois.

  • -3

    Mocheake

    Probe, you are so right. They have no idea of what it means to be cool. Epic failure.

  • 1

    Moonraker

    Even if there is any merit in this pop culture, it is not sweeping the world and it is never likely to as long as it is being promoted by politicians and bureaucrats. I mean, if your dad goes for it then it just ain't cool. Get it?

  • 5

    dcog9065

    The problem with this initiative is that it is too polarizing; this initiative may be successful in spreading the influence of anime and manga and crap like that (I don't like anime or manga), but in doing so it simultaneously spreads a pretty negative image of Japanese culture as geeky and weird towards people who aren't interested in anime or manga (which I would say likely heavily outnumbers those who do), so you risk losing part of the core Japanese cultural message regarding its countryside, temples, history, etc.

  • -3

    Probie

    "anime and manga"

    Call it what it is: "cartoons and comics". You can call it "anime and manga" when you're speaking in Japanese.

    One plan being considered under the Cool Japan Initiative was to select “International Pop Culture Zones.” These areas would receive tax breaks for the production of anime, manga, and related merchandise.

    Why should industries catering to manchildren receive tax breaks?!? If tax breaks can be handed out willy-nilly, surely there are more needing industries?

  • 0

    dcog9065

    Call it what it is: "cartoons and comics". You can call it "anime and manga" when you're speaking in Japanese.

    Nah, that's what they're called in English

  • 5

    smithinjapan

    Imagine if they assembled a group as quickly for something that actually matters.

  • 1

    CH3CHO

    LiveInTokyo

    Whenever I go back to my home country I never see any of this stuff. Whenever I talk to friends who live in the US, they tell me they don't see it either.

    How many of them know Nintendo? By the way, their main target does not seem to be North America, but probably Asia and Europe. The government made the task force because the "cool Japan" thing is not doing well. Though the task force is made up of famous TV producers and entertainment promoters, I think turning around the diminishing trend of demand for Japanese contents is difficult.

  • 6

    marcelito

    The mention of special tax breaks pretty much provides an explanation for this "initiative"...as too often here, this is just about finding another way to funel taxpayer money to a bunch of amakudari oyajis who will sit on comittees, waste time and money on travel, having meetings,conferences and such producing next to no results...Of course they will set up ( or are already involved in ) business interests that can benefit from the tax breaks ( read handouts ) while loudly proclaiming they are doing this for the benefit and promotion of Japan and its culture.

  • 3

    SwissToni

    "it's only the "geek" types who are interested in Cool Japan."

    It could be a pretty far sighted approach.. If you look at the world of business, geeks are the new jocks.

  • 0

    Tolstoy

    CH3CHO: How many of them know Nintendo? Exactly!

  • -7

    Probie

    Call it what it is: "cartoons and comics". You can call it "anime and manga" when you're speaking in Japanese.

    Nah, that's what they're called in English

    That's what they're called in English, if you're a sad wapanese manchild fanboi.

  • 5

    davestrousers

    @Probie

    Manga and anime are widely used terms to refer to specific genres. I bet they are in most English dictionaries. Do you have a similar problem with terms like BritPop and chick-flick? Are you like "no, call it music!", "no, call them movies!"?

  • 1

    Get Real

    Must get me a "look how cool I am!" T-shirt.

  • -1

    AKBfan

    Promote AKB 48 and siste groups - sure to be wildly popular overseas.

  • 0

    Knox Harrington

    Goodness, a bunch of politicians, standard black suit, standard shichisanwake, standard yes-men, coming up with "cool" jp? What is cool about "nadeshiko"? That you still refer to female semi-pros as cute pink flowers?

    This country is so insecure, I can't believe it.

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    AKBfan: "Promote AKB 48 and siste groups - sure to be wildly popular overseas."

    Not in the least. In fact, AKB has in the past, as with many Japanese 'tarento', been mocked for pushing little girls in underwear as sex objects. There certainly is a lot of 'cool' stuff that can be pushed from Japan, but J-pop is not among it, and especially not AKB.

  • -9

    Probie

    That's what they're called in English, if you're a sad wapanese manchild fanboi.

    @Probie I'm guessing some sort of bad past experience where you were called a manchild fanboi or something to explain your inexplicable passion for anime and manga? What a bizarre thing to say..

    No, thankfully I stopped reading comics and watching cartoons not long after my age went into double digits.

    What does Wapanese even mean?

    Google is your friend.

    Manga and anime are widely used terms to refer to specific genres.

    So, you expect Japanese people to say "cartoon" when they're talking about Bugs Bunny? Although, the dummies here can't even call comics "comics", they have to butcher it into "Amekomi".

    I bet they are in most English dictionaries.

    So what if they are?

    Do you have a similar problem with terms like BritPop and chick-flick? Are you like "no, call it music!", "no, call them movies!"?

    That is more like content, which is different. Japanese cartoons look just like any other countries cartoons.

    The whole myth about them being something amazing is laughable. So, yeah, when it comes to "animated pictures" they're all cartoons.

  • 3

    Dennis Bauer

    No, thankfully I stopped reading comics and watching cartoons not long after my age went into double digits.

    Ah, the stories where getting to difficult to understand, i see

  • -7

    Probie

    @Dennis, did you stroke your neckbeard as you typed that on the keyboard on your Pokemon covered desk?

  • -3

    tmarie

    Anyone else fed up with the spend of our tax money of this whole "Please think we're cool! PLEASE!!!". The only people who think Japan is "cool" are manga, anime and questionable j pop fans. Being "cool" among them makes Japan king of the geeks. Nothing to be proud of. I wish they'd stop with this crap and focus on the issues IN the damn country, like say, lack of day cares, the birth rate, the aging population, Fukushima... Seems too much to ask.

  • 5

    Tamarama

    Japan is super cool. Super cool.

    For all kinds of reasons. But it definitely doesn't need to promote this aspect of itself like this. The geeks are all well and truly onto that side of Japan all by themselves, and have been of a long time.

    In fact, I'd say the lack of this kind of trashy advertising has helped preserve Japan's cool-ness. Entirely unnecessary.

  • 1

    dcog9065

    The only people who think Japan is "cool" are manga, anime and questionable j pop fans.

    @tmarie Well that's not true at all, Japan has a very long and rich history and culture, incredible architecture, religion, some of the best food in the world, art, technology, metropolises, countryside, landmarks, etc., much more than most other countries could even think of boasting.

    There's a load of reasons why people might want to come to Japan, although I personally think that pushing contemporary Japanese pop culture and quirky subcultures is not the best way to do it as it polarizes general opinion about Japan in, I think, a negative way.

  • -1

    wipeout

    Anyone else fed up with the spend of our tax money of this whole "Please think we're cool! PLEASE!!!".

    No. People who never shut up about tax money bore me.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Well wipeout, people who have no interest in how tax money is spent bore me so I guess we're equal.

    Dcog, indeed the things you pointed out ARE "cool" but that's not what they're focusing on. AKB is nothing to advertise, more so abroad.

  • -4

    sillygirl

    in a word LAME. it is just a ploy to get some cronies some jobs and money for doing nothing.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Is this real? Whenever I go back to my home country I never see any of this stuff. Whenever I talk to friends who live in the US, they tell me they don't see it either.

    Every Summer there's a convention in Baltimore aimed at promoting Asian Culture. Yeah, the majority of attendees are anime, manga, and manwah fans, but there are workshops and panels on other aspects of Japan as well. They try to bring over J-Pop and K-Pop bands for the convention (last year's headliner was a K-pop band called Vixx). Last year's attendance was in excess of 30,000. http://www.otakon.com

  • -3

    Moby Grape

    There is a good deal of Japanese art, architecture, film, anime, manga, food, literature, music and fashion that is of interest to the world outside of Japan but that has not been well marketed. Many countries have schemes to promote their pop culture internationally. The question is will the Japanese government do something useful or squander the money alloted on misguided notions and handouts to cronies. The popularity of Korean TV and K-pop helped mount this campaign.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Whilst this campaign is essentially a copycat of "Cool Britannia" the UK used a decade or so back - I think its rather harmless - if a little lazily thought out. However, if it gets more tourists over here (Japan is now very affordable for many due to the weak currency and economy), then it will be a shot in the arm for the tourist industry.

  • -3

    Nenad Jovanović

    The Korea government spend tons of money on their export of culture, the first reason was to prevent from being taken by the Japan dramas , music and movies after they lifted a ban on Japan culture in Korea in 1998 , and you see how popular Korean things are now, thats the result of more than a 15 years of Korean government money pouring into all sorts of entertainment, look how much Korean MMORPG has , K-dramas , and K pop idols ( thats what K-pop is , handsome teens ) , and look how cheep are their animation studios ( easy when they got money from goverment ) , simple to say, their government blocked every aspect of Japan culture onto Korea, and whats more, they are now pushing into Japan , truing to destroy J-pop , J-drama and they got hands in anime too ! So , this is just a attempt to try to level with Koreans .

  • 2

    Gekikara Black

    Not in the least. In fact, AKB has in the past, as with many Japanese 'tarento', been mocked for pushing little girls in underwear as sex objects.

    Seriously, how can you keep calling some twenty-something women "little girls" it's beyond me. Shinoda is almost 30 years old for gods sake!

  • -2

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    This is just "nasakenai"! Cool cannot be promoted.... the minute you try to becomes lame!

  • 1

    Dennis Bauer

    @probie no it is One piece covered, and neckbeard? i use a Neon evangelioN razor! Jokes aside there are enough manga and comics that have deep stories (read stuff by neil Gaiman)

  • 0

    ka_chan

    The Cool Japan Promotion Conference and Pop Culture Subcommittee has been assembled to discuss and strategise ways to encourage growth in Japan’s popular culture sector.

    This is aboslutely "uncool", whenever there is a government committee to promote "cool" things which the government thought was "undermining" their society for decades. In Japan, "otaku" is not something one wants to be called.

    > “A long time ago the exports made by Japan in the realm of pop-culture was limited to the televised drama ‘Oshin’ but has now grown to everything from AKB to Nadeshiko [women’s national soccer team]. I want this success to endure.”

    To put these to together is uncool. An I don't think "Oshin" was a popular export. It is one of the very few good Japanese drama with the draw back that it really skimped on the 1930-40's.

    As for the anime and manga, it is very popular worldwide. The story lines are much better than the Japanese dramas. The conventions as http://www.otakon.com is to promote anime, manga, and gaming. The convention is run by "fans". Which is different from <http://www.anime-expo.org/ > that was established to promote Japanese culture but now is more of a US Anime and Manga industry show. It is also the biggest convent in the US hosted at the LA Convention Center and Nokia Theater during a 4 day period always around July 4th.

    Strangely, a large section of the US Anime industry is in Texas. Well, it's strange to me anyway. As for the popularity of Anime and Manga, take a look at http://animecons.com/events/ and even on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anime_conventions.

    Okinawa and Kyoto were granted this designation but will have to wait and see if it’s feasible for them to get the economic benefits of it.

    Now I know why so much crappy anime has been coming out of Kyoto and why some of the more recent story seems to be in Okinawa.

  • 0

    LiveInTokyo

    How many of them know Nintendo?

    I think the majority of the people in advanced countries (and probably even some in third world countries) would know it. But you can`t call a game platform a unique part of Japanese culture.

  • 0

    gas07lisa

    It is only a government or people who are doing this promotion who think that is ”cool" (and they needed something to promote). Even in Japan, those who are really into idols like AKB and animation are seen as Otaku (geeks). There are some good animations like Ghibli and comic books that are popular by majority like "One Piece", but people don't really see other Otaku culture as something cool.

  • 1

    gas07lisa

    and it is those Otaku/ geeks who spend much money buying things!

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