Mar 30, 2013

Can the Japanese Government Promote “Cool Japan” policy and Japanese “soft power?”

Joseph Nye, a political scientist and a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council of the U.S., pointed out the importance of “soft power” in international politics.

Nye defined “power” as the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want. He wrote that there were two types of power, “hard power” and “soft power.” Diplomats mainly have been paying attention on “hard power”, which is the use of coercion and payment, but Nye insisted that “soft power,” which the use of attraction, was more important than “hard power.”

I translated Haruki Murakami’s speech at the Catalonia international prize into English in the entry “Haruki Murakami's Speech on Catalonia International Prize: As an Unrealistic Dreamer.” Kevin, who is managing the website “Senrinomich,” started the project of translating this speech, and now it was translated into thirteen languages.

After the earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, we, Japanese people, have been thinking about nuclear power deeply, but I think that people abroad have not heard much about what we have been thinking.

Although I knew that Haruki Murakami was popular in the world, I was really surprised that people from so many countries wanted to read his speech. When he made a speech about what Japanese people think, people in the world were willing to hear it.

The existence of Haruki Murakami is just Japanese “soft power.”

Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan is promoting “Cool Japan” Policy. They are trying to make Japanese culture more popular in the world and promote Japanese “soft power.”

But I strongly doubt that the government can promote them.

Haruki Murakami has “soft power,” just because he wrote novels that people in the world love. Japanese government has nothing to do with his works. Hayao Miyazaki, Akira Toriyama, Shigeru Miyamoto were not supported by the government, either.

I don’t believe that the government can find such people at all. Nobody thought that they would be success in the world, before they actually became popular across the world. The next person who wields this “soft power” will appear out of the wood works, a place which can't be predicted. How will the government support them?

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