Playing the global game: Japan brand and globalization
DOI link for Playing the global game: Japan brand and globalization
Playing the global game: Japan brand and globalization book
Japanese popular culture, including animation, video games, comic books, and other audio-visual media, has been circulating widely in the global market over the past two decades. Of the aforementioned popular media, Japanese animation and video games are arguably the most prominent examples of how mass-distributed pop culture can become major effective tools for the market economy as well as for other socio-cultural phenomena. The sudden surge in market sales abroad during the mid-to-late 1990s motivated the Japanese government to officially support the popular culture industries, also known as the “Content industry,” at the turn of the new millennium, fundamentally believing that they had great potential to benefit the Japanese economy in the long run. Emerging out of the incumbent Prime Minister Koizumi Junichirou’s administration as the Intellectual Property Rights scheme in 2002, the plan to promote the Japanese Content industry developed into a full-blown national effort when the Content Industry Promotion Bill, or the Kontentsu Sangy Shiensaku Han, was passed in June of 2004. It included six media industries at the time: animation, live-action films, manga, popular music, television dramas, and video games. In the late 2000s, a larger cultural spectrum was embraced in order to cultivate Japan’s national promotion; non-media fields such as character goods, fashion, and food were added to the promotion list. Among the initial six industries, the government was particularly keen on promoting Japanese animation (anime) and video games. Japanese government officials stated that the motivation for their support of these industries was due to the sheer volume of increased video game and anime DVD sales in the United States since the late 1990s. Numerous Japanese governmental reports have referred to Japan’s “Gross National Cool” (McGray 2002) and also referred to Joseph Nye Jr.’s concept of “soft power” (Nye 2004). Therefore, Japan’s quest to build their own soft power has been guided under the banner of “Cool Japan” in their efforts to promote a new Japanese image and identity
towards the western markets. In June 2010, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced its new agenda to establish Japan as a culture industry nation. In turn, METI set up the “Cool Japan Division,” which replaced the Content industry division established in 2004. The Japanese government’s support of popular national culture is one of the most drastic policy shifts since the Meiji era’s cultural policies in the late nineteenth century. Being the precursor of globalization, nineteenth-century forces of westernization resulted in Japan’s co-opting of Western logic (Anderson 2009) and resulted in Japan establishing self-orientalizing policies vis-à-vis western powers. Over a century later, we witness Japan in a new modality, this time dealing with larger forces of globalization. After two decades of post-bubble economy recession, the current Japanese government’s pledge to develop soft power through the means of popular culture mirrors the Meiji era’s late-nineteenth-century cultural policies targeting western audiences. This chapter will analyze the Japanese governmental support of the Content industry as a reactionary policy to the forces of globalization. Ultimately, this has not resulted in a disruption or contestation to global flows, but rather appears to embrace the institutional structure of Western capitalism in globalizing its popular culture to appeal to a broader global audience.