Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Idiosyncratic Japan's New Campaign: "Cool Japan Promotion"

In a beautiful fractal way (with Fukushima officials selling Fukushima as "heart-throbbing place"), here's the Japanese national government setting up a council to sell Japan as a "cool place" to foreigners.

What do they want to sell to foreigners? Anime and fashion.

One of the council members is going to be a famous (infamous, depending on whom you ask) TV producer who runs the all-girl "idol" group of AKB. The 54-year-old producer has these young girls and women live together under his tight rules, which include never to date a boy while being a member of this idol group. One of the girls was caught breaking the rule, but she disciplined herself voluntarily by shaving her head and made a tearful apology on video.

Anyway, the Abe administration's idea of "Cool Japan" is to include people like this producer (calling them "learned or knowledgeable people" or "the wise") in a committee headed by an LDP politician whose political views are characterized as "ultra-nationalist" by some. It's apparently so important for the prime minister that this politician, Ms. Tomomi Inada, has a ministerial position.

From Asahi Shinbun, whose reporting definitely changed in January in favor of the Abe administration (2/26/2013):

秋元康氏らがメンバーに 政府のクールジャパン推進会議

Mr. Yasushi Akimoto will be one of the members of the government's Cool Japan Promotion Council


The Abe administration set up the "Cool Japan Promotion Council" (chaired by Tomomi Inada, minister in charge of Cool Japan strategy) in order to come up with ways to sell Japanese fashion and culture to foreigners.


The council will made up of vice ministers from the related ministries and seven people of knowledge including Mr. Yasushi Akimoto, producer of "AKB48". The council will discuss how the government and private industry can cooperate to increase the export of contents and how to disseminate information, and come up with the proposals. The proposals will be incorporated into the growth strategy that the national government is to finalize in June.


Other people of knowledge are: Tsuguhiko Kadokawa (chairman of Kadokawa Group Holdings, a publishing and media entity), Kin Bí-Leng (commentator), Junko Koshino (fashion designer), Rikifusa Satake (director of Japan Food Service Association), Sen Soshitsu (current head of the Urasenke tea school), Tatsumi Yoda (CEO of Gaga Corporation, a movie distributor).

Here are faces of the people who will decide "cool":

Tomomi Inada, minister in charge of Cool Japan strategy:

Yasushi Akimoto of AKB fame:

Mr. Tsuguhiko Kadokawa:

Ms. Kin Bí-Leng:

Ms. Junko Koshino:

Mr. Rikifusa Sateke:

Sen Soshitsu:

Tatsumi Yoda:


JAnonymous said...

I vote for Ben Murray with the green bow tie !

Sorry, I thought it was Japan PM election. I forgot I don't get to vote for him, coz I'm a foreigner (hint hint, miss inada doesn't care for long-term residents), and coz you vote for a party anyway...

Reading her wikipedia page clearly explains why Abe needs to parachute her somewhere. You name ine : takeshima, nankin, yasukuni, comfort women, ...

But Fukushima pref is right to do it's promotion now, there's no way you can have a *cool* japan in summer :)

Mike said...

Those have got to be some of the least "cool" looking people I have ever seen.

If we were going to have really cool people involved, I'd nominate guys like Kawabata Makoto, Shinro Ohtake, Takeshi Kitano, Haruki Murakami, or Hiroaki Samura, though I'm pretty sure none of them would want anything to do with this.

Darth 3.11 said...

Back to yukata and zori for realistic summer CoolBiz wear. Worked for centuries.

And, how about some insulation in buildings and double pane windows? And keep the aircon on something reasonable, not tropical. Meanwhile, turn off the pachinko lights.

Oh, and not anyone under 50 on this list of coolness promoters? Where are the younger people who actually create the anime and coolness of Japan?

Anonymous said...

Average age of the members of the panel to make Japan cool: a million years old

Ivan said...

Japanese people involved should take advantage to direct all of "cool" resulting from clever promotion to appropriate place like Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant "hot" reactors.

Anonymous said...

Yasushi Akimoto looks like an Asian Elton John. Cool?...not really.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I understand, the "cool" hits the "hot" and there is a sort of yin/yang effect where it balances out and neutral shutdown is achieved. That's brilliant 5:50 PM.

SouthJerseyJoey said...

holy cow, these people are so cool they belong in the freezing cold category. The Koshino woman does looks like she could not only stop a train with her face but a runaway reactor too.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Kin looks pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

opposite of cool = lame

Anonymous said...

The Addams Family or the Munsters.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tsuguhiko Kadokawa looks like a Japanese version of George III of England and he was the absolute antithesis of cool.

NYUlltraBuddha said...

That incident with AKB was absolutely horrible. That poor girl looked as though she was going through reeducation at a communist prison camp. Is this the image of themselves that Japan wants to project to the world? Just before it occurred, Beate Sirota Gordon, author of the women's rights clause in Japan's constitution, and also a longtime supporter of the Article 9 anti-war clause, had passed away. She must be turning in her grave.

Anonymous said...

So I happened to look this up today and Wikipedia has an article that says Cool Japan has been going since 2002.

That AKB incident was silly, yes, but the picture of her crying was quickly accompanied by pictures of her smiling with her friends.

I haven't intensively looked into the full story behind that nonsense (not worth my time), but the impression I got was that the whole thing was a stunt specifically aimed at pacifying her fans, and that she herself didn't really care either way. Hair grows back quickly, and crocodile tears are a dime a dozen.

Even if I'm wrong about this, the important thing to remember is that media in all countries LOVE to leap on and exaggerate anything they can use to demonize other countries and make their own country look good. It keeps their citizens happy. Sensationalist rags in particular can never be trusted as reliable information.

I personally don't think the AKB incident has anything to do with women's rights. At all. She chose to take up a job as an "idol". She wasn't forced to. Would you call it a men's rights issue if a man who "disgraced" his profession in some way was forced to commit harakiri?

People could just not take a job that involves excessive atonement for failing in the responsibilities of their employment.

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