クール・ジャパン 海外の人気を成長に生かせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 31, 2010)
Time to capitalize on 'Cool Japan' boom
クール・ジャパン 海外の人気を成長に生かせ(8月30日付・読売社説)

Japanese pop culture--widely referred to as "Cool Japan"--has taken off overseas. The government should take advantage of this boom in all things Japanese to push domestic businesses' advance into foreign markets.

Japanese anime and manga have become immensely popular among young people overseas. Japanese fashion grabs plenty of headlines, and foods such as sushi are a hit with health-conscious diners.

But this popularity has not necessarily led to overseas expansion by domestic companies involved in these industries. The domestic animation industry remains dominated by small and midsize companies, and exports of textiles have slackened. Japanese restaurants have been mushrooming the world over, but many are operated by non-Japanese.

While Japan fails to transform its overseas popularity into economic growth, South Korea has been increasing its presence in other Asian countries.

According to a report by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, CD and DVD stores in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore brim with South Korean dramas and K-pop albums by South Korean singers. In China, the sales of a South Korean apparel maker often compared with Japan's Uniqlo brand operator are going through the roof.

Public-private sales model

As Korean dramas gain popularity, South Korean makers follow up by promoting fashion brands worn by actors and actresses starring in the programs. The South Korean private and public sectors seem to be jointly building a business model that uses Korean brands to expand sales in targeted countries.

The government seems content for Japan to just be extolled overseas as "cool." However, we think the government has not tried hard enough, or been imaginative enough, in taking advantage of this popularity for the benefit of business expansion.

In June, the trade ministry released its "strategy to promote a culture-oriented industry." This plan to harness "Cool Japan" to revitalize the national economy seemingly reflects an awareness that more must be done to tap this industry.

The strategy calls for an integrated support system--from product development to the signing of overseas sales contracts--for small and midsize companies that lack the expertise and funds needed to develop their business abroad. We hope the ministry's strategy will be steadily implemented.

Get on same page

The government's administration of overseas activities has been divided among its ministries--the trade ministry fosters "Cool Japan" industries, the Foreign Ministry looks after cultural exchanges and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry promotes Japanese foods.

South Korean products could dominate rapidly growing Asian markets, but they are less likely to do so in European and U.S. markets, where Japanese brands' reputation for high quality is well entrenched.

Japan should emulate the Korean formula of ensuring cooperation transcends fields such as fashion, movies, food and manga, instead of promoting business through separate government ministries and agencies. If the "fences" between these government offices remain too high, the Cabinet minister and other politicians who head each ministry must step up and exercise leadership to make this cooperation a reality.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 30, 2010)
(2010年8月30日01時26分 読売新聞)

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