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Abe aims to boost the power of 'Cool Japan' cultural exports

Mar 24. 2013
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By The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japanese music, anime, fashion and food are in the global spotlight, a trend called the "Cool Japan" boom.

We believe this trend should be boosted to stimulate the nation’s economic growth.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered Tomomi Inada, state minister for administrative reforms, to also serve as the nation’s first Cool Japan strategy minister. Abe has also launched an expert panel aimed at promoting the government’s Cool Japan campaign. These moves reflect the prime minister’s intention to make the Cool Japan initiative part of the government’s growth strategy.

We believe the government’s policy of promoting businesses related to Cool Japan culture to a level Japan can be proud of is worth pursuing.

The cornerstone of the Cool Japan initiative is the content industry, which produces movies, anime and video games. The size of the industry’s domestic market is about 12 trillion yen (Bt3.7trillion).

Future depends on global market

However, as the nation’s population has begun to shrink, the future of Japan’s content industry will taper off if it depends only on the domestic market. If the industry seeks further growth, it needs to aggressively advance overseas, and find new business opportunities there.

The size of the content industry’s global market is about 130 trillion yen. It is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 6 per cent.

One idea is to increase exports of domestic movies. Last year’s export sales of domestic movies came to about 5 billion yen, less than 5 per cent of domestic box-office revenues that year.

Export sales of domestic TV programmes were 6.3 billion yen in 2010, lagging far behind the figure for South Korea, where the government strongly backs TV programme exports. Japan’s manga and anime are highly appreciated in the world. The government needs to draw up a strategy to exploit their full potential.

A noteworthy effort that began in India last year is a TV remake of the popular Japanese anime “Kyojin no Hoshi” (Star of the Giants).

The anime TV series was jointly produced by Japanese and Indian firms. Instead of playing baseball, the hero of the TV series devotes himself to cricket, India’s national sport.

Japanese companies sponsoring the series have enjoyed product placement for goods such as cars and stationery in the show. We believe the remade anime will also help viewers deepen their understanding of Japan’s high-growth period.

Successful examples important

Yasushi Akimoto, general producer of girl group AKB48, has made thought-provoking remarks on the subject. “To prevent the Cool Japan campaign from ending up as a hollow image, it is important to produce successful examples,” he said.

Akimoto serves as a member of the government’s expert panel on promoting the Cool Japan Initiative.

The government should utilise various ideas generated by the private sector and proactively disseminate parts of Japanese culture that could win the hearts of the world.

The government has earmarked 50 billion yen in the fiscal 2013 budget to establish a fund aimed at promoting the Cool Japan campaign.

We urge the government to do its utmost to provide effective financial support and publicity.

It is important for the government and the private sector to join hands to devise a strategy on promoting the Cool Japan campaign. We hope such a strategy will be smoothly put on track.

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