chapter  3
19 Pages

Popular culture as a tool for soft power: myth or reality? Manga in four European countries

From 1993 to 2003, the value of Japanese export of cultural goods tripled, totalling 10.5 trillion yen – more than 20 percent of the value of manufacturing exports for the same period. As a result, Japan is now the world’s second largest exporter of cultural goods. In 2002, Japan generated approximately 10 percent of the world’s production of content, contributing 2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (METI 2005). The growth of this sector is all the more important because Japan has been confronted with a protracted economic crisis since the beginning of the 1990s. According to Japanese authorities and the Japanese business community alike, in the midst of a model change, and in the face of the overwhelming power of China in the manufacturing sector, the economic future of Japan rests more and more upon what is variously called “content industry,” “copyright industry,” “creative industry” or “cultural industry” (Nippon Keidanren 2003; Science Council of Japan 2007). In 2009, in an enthusiastic, yet risky, attempt at assessing the future weight of this sector, the then prime minister Aso¯ Taro¯ figured that the market for Japanese worldwide exports of content would reach 20 to 30 trillion yen in 2020, creating no fewer than 500,000 new jobs in the Archipelago and accounting for a quarter of the estimated growth of Japan’s GDP in the next decade (Cartoonleap 2009).