Cool Japan

cool japan

The concept of Cool Japan, along with that of ‘Gross National Cool,’ was coined in 2002 as an expression of Japan’s emergent status as a cultural superpower. Gaining broad exposure in the media and academia, the brand of ‘Cool Japan’ has been adopted by the Japanese government as well as trade bodies seeking to exploit the commercial capital of the country’s culture industry. It has been described as a form of soft power, ‘the ability to indirectly influence behaviour or interests through cultural or ideological means.’

In a 2002 article in ‘Foreign Policy’ entitled ‘Japan’s Gross National Cool,’ Douglas McGray wrote of Japan ‘reinventing superpower’ as its cultural influence expanded internationally despite the economic and political problems of the ‘lost decade.’ Surveying youth culture and the role of manga, anime, fashion, film, consumer electronics, architecture, cuisine, J-pop, and phenomena of cuteness such as Hello Kitty, McGray highlighted Japan’s considerable soft power, posing the question of what message the country might project. He also argued that Japan’s recession may even have boosted its national cool, due to the partial discrediting of erstwhile rigid social hierarchies and big-business career paths.

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