Is 'Cool Japan' truly cool?
Influenced by 'Cool Britannia', a media-related term and policy that had thrived in the British culture back in the 1990s, 'Cool Japan' was endorsed by American journalists back in 2002. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry established the 'Cool Japan' Promotional Office in 2010. Following this, the elevation of 'Cool Japan' strategy as a national policy, aimed to capture demands from overseas to create job opportunities for related industries.
However, there was a situation where subcultures of manga, anime and traditional cultures such as tea ceremonies, technology industry, disappointingly even child pornography, were all being discussed representing 'Cool Japan.' Contrary to its recognition, it was difficult to develop empathy for this policy due to unclear philosophies of overall content and lack of international perspectives.
In 2014, the director of 'Cool Japan', Inada Tomomi appointed our CEO Eisuke Tachikawa, who had participated in various cases related to the transmissions of creative industries in Asia, as the concept leader of the 2nd Cool Japan Movement Promotion Conference.
First and foremost, is 'Cool Japan' truly cool?
Conversely, what kind of policy would be impactful for Japanese industry to be noticed as cool?
By further organizing the elements, it helped us to identify important genres.
The quality of 'Cool Japan' can be organized by coordinates of 'Cute' 'Beautiful' 'Innovation' and 'Tradition'.
Reasons for 'Cool Japan' project, and what a 'Cool Japan' mission is.
Japan as a country providing creative solutions to world challenges.
To explore the complexity and unanswered questions, we decided to re-set the purpose of 'Cool Japan'.
In all four conferences with direction by Tachikawa, we suggested to open a dialogue-type discussion that had never been done before in past expert panels. By having film directors, actors and actresses, Noh artists, athletes and other representatives all participating without compensation, we were able to exchange unrestricted opinions where usually hierarchy and where only people at stake would gather, to re-evaluate the fundamentality of 'Cool Japan'.
Based on the discussion from those conferences, we want to set a model that can solve various problems, and promote Japan to the world with the help from the content industry. Thus, the 'Cool Japan' focuses on "Japan as a country that provides creative solutions for global issues" as its mission.
We realized that the Japanese content industry, which includes anime and manga, had the power to sweep the world. If Japan can utilize the power of the content industry to solve social issues and enhance it to the export industry, we would not only consider contents businesses solely creating new contents, but also acknowledge its contribution to the world. By doing so, we should be able to achieve a truly cool 'Cool Japan'.
In order to put these practices into action, we designed the proposal into three steps: 1. Promote domestic growth. 2. Connect national and international. 3. Present Japan as contributive to the world. Furthermore, we organized nine missions to embody each mission.
Below: Japan's Ministerial Declaration of Cool Japan Mission
Japan, a Country Providing Creative Solutions to the World’s Challenges
More than 18 months have passed since I took office as the first minister in charge of the “Cool Japan” strategy. Since the 1990s, such forms of Japan-based entertainment as Japanimation, manga and electronic games have been enjoyed in many countries, and tasty, healthy Japanese food has attracted more and more people even while we, the Japanese people, are losing confidence and energy, and becoming more introverted due to prolonged economic struggles. I position the Cool Japan strategy as a social movement for each of us to rediscover various aspects of Japan’s attractiveness and then disseminate it to the world. The government has been encouraging this movement through, for example, a high-profile campaign by the Prime Minister and support for positive private-sector activities such as finance through Cool Japan Fund Inc. Since assuming this ministerial position, I have visited the U.S. and many countries in Europe and Asia, and felt a very strong interest in Cool Japan among the local people. It is also a fact, however, that advertising various different aspects of Japan’s appeal in an uncoordinated manner fails to focus on certain targets, and thus weakens the message. Therefore, the current situation is not satisfactory. The decision to hold the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo has been made, and there is momentum that supports the Cool Japan strategy. The Cool Japan Movement Promotion Council has been discussing how we should further strengthen the message so as not to miss this opportunity. We have invited a young, spirited designer, Eisuke Tachikawa, to serve as the concept director, and a variety of artists, athletes and creative professionals on the front line not only in Japan but also internationally, to participate as guests. With some members unheard of in conventional, conservative government and amid a loose atmosphere, we held active discussions and I also voiced my opinions while enjoying the opportunity. Through our discussions we realized that what is expected from Cool Japan is not simply some economic effects achieved by introducing and promoting Japanese culture. Japan is well versed in facing and tackling challenges, and has already been addressing a number of difficulties, including a declining birthrate and an aging population, environmental and energy issues, and financial reconstruction that many countries are likely to face in the near future. Japan is a nation of innovation that since long ago has flexibly imported the products of foreign cultures and developed them as its original culture, amid its harsh environment of limited land and a lack of resources. Japanshould now take the initiative in solving difficult issues by using the originality and ingenuity characteristic of its people, and thus become a world leader. Japan’s brand value as a nation will be raised if other countries in the world can use Japan's case as a reference when challenged by similar problems. In other words, I hereby declare that, “Japan, a country providing creative solutions to the world’s challenges,” is the new mission of Cool Japan. Based on this declaration, I had the core members of the Council list some attractive actions. While the government has implemented various projects in the past, the Cool Japan proposals made by so many front-line professionals as a group are unprecedented. Being packed with ideas to create new businesses and grow existing ones, these proposals should, by all means, be taken advantage of by government offices in their respective activities. Another remarkable achievement was the development of human resources, including the members and guests who participated in the Council. We ask for the continuous cooperation of the members and guests, by providing us with advice and cooperation in events when the government offices implement their projects. The Cool Japan strategy has entered the next stage. There is no end to raising the brand value of “Japan,” and we look forward to taking on new challenges in the future. August 26, 2014 Minister in charge of the “Cool Japan” strategy
Memes were created from the proposal by the current generation.
The 'Cool Japan' proposal, announced along with mission declaration by Minister Inada, was highly regarded from both the government officials and creative workers. Although subsequent developments were highly anticipated, the cabinet remodeling happened shortly after the announcement, which unfortunately resulted in the change of minister who is in charge of 'Cool Japan' and consequently, a big gap between the content proposal and specific policies. However, since 2014, trends such as "JAPAN HOUSE" have become business bases for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and are currently developed in three cities overseas. With SDGs accelerating ahead within the industrial world, we believe that this proposal was by no means irrelevant. In addition, we are working on many projects promoting solutions with creative power such as "Tokyo Bousai". Moreover, memes that were created through 'Cool Japan' have been transformed and maintaining its purpose today. We still believe that this proposal is useful not only for the content promotion in Japan but also for overall administrative reform in the future. We will upload the full text here, so please take a look.
COOL JAPAN PROPOSAL download PDF:
COOL JAPAN PROPOSAL
Concept Director & Art Director
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa)