Government’s “Cool Japan” Promotion Strategies Criticized

Cool Japan and Japanese content creators

As the Abe administration continues to pursue its “Cool Japan” strategy as a means of expanding Japanese cultural influence overseas, it has been suggested during a meeting to discuss how to proceed that Japanese content creators — those who produce anime, art, fashion and so on — pool their skills and resources to further the cause. And that they should do it for free. There was also a proposal that “Cool Japan” schools be set up in other Asian countries.

In particular, AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi has come under fire from netizens using Twitter for proposing that people who already work in notoriously precarious industries and often receive low wages for considerable periods of their career might work for the state without compensation.

What do you think? Should Japanese content creators back “Cool Japan” for the sake of the nation? Will “Cool Japan” schools help to spread Japanese culture abroad?

From Yahoo! Japan:

Form Group of Japanese Content Creators To Promote ‘Cool Japan’, Says Government

On April 3, the government held a meeting for the promotion of ‘Cool Japan’, and discussed specific strategies in order to sell Japanese food, anime, and fashion to foreign countries as part of ‘Cool Japan’. As a citizen representative, AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi pointed out that “we should ask distinguished creators throughout Japan to take one for the team”. He suggested that those in the fields of anime and art be asked to co-operate in creating posters and catch phrases without pay.

Kadokawa Tsuguhiko, CEO of Kadokawa Group Holdings proposed that they use so-called overseas ‘otaku’ who have been influenced by Japanese anime as teachers, saying “We should establish at least ten schools in places like Singapore and Indonesia that will teach ‘Cool Japan'”. The master of Urasenke school of tea ceremonies, Sen Soushitsu, suggested “How about sending students who are studying the Japanese tea ceremony abroad?”

The “Cool Japan” Promotion Council will gather the recommendations over the next month, and the government intends to reflect on a growth strategy which will be compiled in June.

Comments from Twitter:


Don’t they have any respect for craftspeople? RT @montserrat5: How about Akimoto himself taking the initiative and dragging 48 people along with him on a world tour? Without payment.


Who the hell is going to do it for free….


I had a feeling this would trend and lo and behold it did.


A clearly commercial and thinly-veiled hustle like Akimoto suggests is going to lower the value of Japan’s creativity, so please, don’t do this.

きらもりこ/moriko kira:

If this is being led by the government, then at any rate it’s going to end up being weird. I don’t really get it. If you’re trying to sell something that you have to sell it, that’s that. How are they going to get things supplied for free?

リックドム :

To get creators to co-operate without payment? I mean, when there are so many of them who get such low wages to say that they should be asked to help for free…isn’t that too much?

hiroxxx *(BREAKERS)*:

This failed the moment they selected Akimoto as a citizen representative.


So fed up with this I have nothing to say…


When I woke up early this morning and read this, the words that came out of my mouth were “This is idiotic”(´Д` )


If we’re talking about doing stuff for free, then you do it first, Akimoto (Yasushi).

Syamo / Cubase:

Creators should do it without being paid??? Is this pig fucking joking?


So the kind of “Cool Japan” that the government is talking about, that proposes unpaid labour that begins with this idea of “overtime as service”? I see, I see. This country’s in a league of it’s own, it basically doesn’t ratify any treaties relating to labour.


Schools that teach “Cool Japan”??????


Who the hell is going to do that on a voluntary basis…they must be fucking kidding.


So “Cool Japan” really meant “Cool” in the sense of “Callous Japan”, then…?(´ω`)


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  • elizabeth

    The government should back the creators, not get the creators to back its schools. Creators work best left on their own with support where needed.

  • Poko chan

    Dont have to be promoted.
    Learn English first, Japanese!!

    • elizabeth

      The French would disagree.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      They already do. English is a foreign language option in school, and unofficially the most used, next to Portuguese(I hope I spelled that right).

      Why do you think Japanese language adopts so many English words?

      • the other guy

        Spanish as from 2011 is the most Spoke language in the world after Chinese mandarin . English is third…

        • Guest
        • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

          That has nothing to do with what I said. I’m talking about foreign language studies in Japan.

          I can’t think of any Japanese adopted words that have Spanish origin.

          • Butsu

            If only all the people in Japan that learns English could actually speak it as well, that would be awesome.

          • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

            Problem is most teachers only studied the language, without actually using it with real English speakers, and the students they teach only take notes and do tests without ever really trying to use what they learned.
            Their learning system may work well for learning other subjects, but does poop for learning new languages. It’d be a lot better if they had more foreign, native English speakers teaching them. Give them exposure to the actual living language, rather than what’s in their textbooks.

          • Butsu

            To be fair, they do have a lot of good Japanese english teachers. As I’ve mentioned before, at the English branch of my former Japanese collage, they grammar techers were all Japanese. Then they had speaking lessons with native teachers, so they would just talk about anything for hours end sometimes, the results were pretty good I must say.

          • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

            Yeah but that’s college, everything improves once you reach that point.

        • congee

          But English still has the most economic and cultural clout. Most Spanish speakers come from impoverished countries in Latin America.

          I doubt the figures for ‘Mandarin’. Not everyone in China speaks Mandarin. They may share the same writing system but will speak different, often very different as in the difference between German and Italian, dialects of ‘Chinese’. It would be like considered all the languages of Europe as Europeanese and classifying them as one language. Add that to the fact that China’s GDP per captia is still around the same level as Costa Rica, it’s a closed society with a heavily censored media that makes every effort to minimize genuine contact between its people and the non-Chinese outside world, a highly nationalistic (you may say increasingly fascist) inward looking education system that continually emphasizes the differences between Chinese and ever threatening ‘outsiders’, and we can see why English is going to remain the global language for the foreseeable future.

          • linette lee

            The universal language among Chinese is Mandarin. All chinese that ever attended school can understand, write, and speak good amount of mandarin along with their own native dialogue. Other dialogues include Cantonese, Taiwanese Hokkien, Taishanese,
            Shanghainese etc…. The Chinese that only speak native
            dialogues and zero mandarin most likely never attended school. They can’t read nor write Chinese. Which is also very common in those poor China rural areas. I see plenty of china chinese can barely read or write chinese here in USA working in Chinese restaurant. And they don’t speak Mandarin. They came from poor rural areas in China.

            And no, Italian and germany are completely two different languages with no similarity. While mandarin ,cantonese, hokkien etc…have like 70% or so similarity in pronunciation. Writing is the same except some use traditional and some use simplified.

          • Butsu

            Sucks to be a Uyghur then, seeing how the languages don’t have anything in common at all.

          • linette lee

            I meant to type dialect and not dialogue. And I see I typed before instead of because in another post. I think I am dyslexic. lol.

  • bluesummers

    When AKB48’s producer calls you out on your bullshit, you probably messed up beyond any salvageable means.

  • Butsu

    Seeing how for example work in animation in Japan is a low wage job I don’t think they should “take one for the team”.

    • linette lee

      Japan animation is awesome. Using japanese comic book, tv and movie cartoons would definitely promote Japan. The Japan gov’t should invest money to promote it. Post japanese cartoons on Youtube tranlated into English, Spanish, and chinese, In no time you will have billion views. Also make more educational japanese cartoons for kids similar to barney dinosaur. They should hold more events in Japan similar to comic con.. Open a theme park using japanese characters similar to disney world.

      Japan fashion should be promoted too. They are cute for little girls and young teenagers. Make Japanese shows similar to hannah montana, a fashion icon for young girls.

      • PixelPulse

        If they post their anime on youtube, they would lose money though. As for the theme parks, it would only work if all their anime came from one company. I do like the childs cartoon idea though, I think that would work well in promoting Japanese language and culture to kids (maybe adults too if its like MLP). And I agree that Japanese fashion should be promoted more like Kawaii International.

        • Butsu

          A lot of animation companies (or publishers) have a fairly successful setup over at a site called crunchyroll.

  • I feel embarrassed about this. Japanese government expands animation and idols who are definitely much worse than Korean idols as Cool Japan.

    If the government keeps doing this, speaking of Japan, people around the world recognize only these things even though there are more a lot of beautiful and traditional other things.

    • Ruaraidh

      It’s too late I’m afraid. Last time I went to Japan, the people in the boarding lounge who weren’t businessmen and returning Japanese tourists were pretty much all anime obsessed obese neckbeards.

  • *sighs* They should ask otaku to do it! Pay them with figurines and blow up dolls and posters!

    Anywho…. they make Cool Japan cooooler by making their music crap more accessible to international fans and open up Youtube pages globally and make it easier to join fanclubs! Not make it domestic-only when they KNOW they have many international fans… ok…. just thought I would take this time to rant is all lol.

  • PixelPulse

    Please God, dont let them send otaku’s.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Eh this feels a bit like an old man trying to convince the ‘young people’ that he’s still cool, even as he tries furiously to find his dentures.

  • if they focus on anime it will only pleased the westerner, but, if they focus on more traditional stuff, like musical instrument, clothing, or conduct workshop like calligraphy, it will be popular with people of all ages and gender. If its just anime and cosplay, I and many others will not really care, its just a small part of Japan’s uniqueness and the part not many really care about… besides…. do you really want a foreigner pretending to be Japanese and only like anime to be interested about Japan, or people who are curious about the artistic or ritualistic etc side of Japan? Yamato the drummer of Japan was awesome…. bring more of that, no anime convention that stuff sucks anyway.

    • Kiwi

      Guess you can’t have that electrifying connection with me then

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