The chrysanthemum and the cool
In recent decades, cultural diplomacy and soft power have emerged as a conscious decision by the Japanese government to strategically advance its international position without threatening other countries with the use of force, which is prohibited by the Japanese constitution, and without utilizing its economic might in a way that will make Japan look threatening. This is especially useful in the context of Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors, particularly China and South Korea, where “soft” diplomacy serves as a way to influence mass opinion in these countries without stressing the already troubled relations, and avoids skirmishes over historical or territorial disputes. As part of this move, the government has become increasingly aware of Japan’s contemporary cultural appeal and has been attempting to utilize it as part of its charm offensive abroad. This chapter analyzes the changing attitude of the Japanese government toward the role of “culture” in the political life of the state and especially in the context of Japan’s postwar foreign policy: How has Japan used cultural diplomacy to further its geopolitical goals? How did it shape Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors? What is the mechanism of utilizing culture to achieve goals in international politics?