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2009 Vol.4
Cool Japan and “Japan-ness”


Cool Japan refers to Japan’s”cool”contemporary culture, and seven years has passed since the term became prevalent overseas along with the interest in Japanese contemporary culture. During this period, various policies centering on promoting the development of the content industry have been proposed and implemented. Information on anime (animations) and manga (cartoons) representing Cool Japan has been disseminated in foreign countries, and its influence can no longer be ignored. However, at the same time, it is also true that the amount of such information has tended downward since it reached a peak around 2000.
Cool Japan has transmitted the image of Japan as a nation and has provided content affecting opinions on the country. However, products and technology developed in Japan, which have driven the country’s economy, as well as its traditional culture are also factors that are equally influential and represent the nation. Such advanced technology and traditional culture contain”coolness”as seen in Japanese craftsmanship, in which the Japanese themselves can take pride.
It is difficult to provide a simple answer to the question”, What constitutes Japan?”But, accepting assessments from foreign countries without questioning is not desirable. It is necessary for us Japanese to see widespread examples of Cool Japan as a good opportunity, to teach ourselves ways to appreciate Japan-ness, and to broadcast positive aspects of Japan from within the country. In other words, we need a branding strategy for Japan.
The question arises as to why we need to do this. It is neither inducing other countries to pursue actions that are favorable to Japan nor placing Japan at an economically advantageous position. We need to introduce Japan, asking ourselves what role it should play as a member of the international community. This is the most important issue to be discussed for the country’s future.
Cool Japan has had some considerable impact, and therefore we would like to share with the world the coolness of Japan that we ourselves find, using Cool Japan as a tool. The nation as a whole needs to build a new institution to achieve this.