The tennis player Rafael Nadal apparently watched the animated series Dragon Ball every day when he was a child. Lady Gaga is crazy about Hello Kitty. Some countries are implementing economic growth strategies in which the whole country is involved in developing and promoting content and brands. South Korea’s Cool Korea initiative ignited the hanryu (Korean) boom, and also helped South Korean automakers, appliance manufacturers, and so on expand their market shares overseas. Japan also needs to make Cool Japan a national strategy.
1. Pursue Cool Japan as a National Strategy
It is important that the Cool Japan initiative be implemented as a national strategy through cooperation between the government and the private sector. A Cool Japan strategy in which the public and private sectors work together as one should be pursued as a kinetic theory. For example, a strategy committee comprising members from both the public and private sectors should be established; informal teams centered on leading-edge content producers should be put together; cooperation with local governments, diplomatic missions abroad, and relevant organizations (the Japan Foundation, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO)) should be pursued; and a network of internationally-minded people should be established. Since the “100 Actions” project began, Cool Japan has made a lot of progress as a national strategy. In 2013 the Cool Japan Strategy Committee was established and a Cool Japan Fund with 37.5 billion yen in capital was also launched. We hope going forward that progress continues to be made.
2. Develop cool strengths through insights from non-Japanese people
Find and develop content producers and entrepreneurs
Japanese people often make mistakes about “what’s cool” and “what’s fun” in the eyes of people overseas. Things discovered by non-Japanese people are actually more likely to become popular. It would therefore be effective to set up organizations both in Japan and overseas that can operate as networks centered on non-Japanese people who are tasked with enabling Cool Japan to unearth buried cultural resources and regional resources.
Spreading the content discovered through these insights from non-Japanese nationals throughout the world is a job for producers and entrepreneurs. Japan is losing out to other countries in this area, making the nurturing of producers and entrepreneurs the top priority task.
3. Strengthen Capabilities for Disseminating Content Overseas
To implement Cool Japan globally, it will be important to make use of opportunities and events. The ability of such events as the Japan International Contents Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival to disseminate content overseas should be improved. Heavy use of international events such as the Japan Expo and World Economic Forum (Davos) can also be made.
Effective promotional methods are undergoing big changes due to the explosion of the Internet and social media. To accompany traditional approaches centered on trade fairs, exhibitions, and TV dramas and movies, which Hollywood and South Korea have employed so effectively, it will become increasingly important to make strategic efforts to dramatically increase the volume of information transmitted by word of mouth or from consumer to consumer. These efforts include the hiring of Cool Japan ambassadors to serve as information hubs.
4. Invest an Adequate Amount of Capital
To ensure that content is discovered, producers and entrepreneurs are nurtured, and Cool Japan is transmitted overseas, an adequate amount of money will need to be invested in various fields. The Cool Japan Fund has been established to provide money for the distribution of content overseas. Going forward, comprehensive assistance will be required to produce content that is likely to be popular overseas from the beginning, develop sales channels, increase exposure in overseas media, and so on.
If South Korea can succeed overseas with its music, TV dramas, movies, etc., so too can Japan. When producing content, it will be important to always think about selling it overseas. In the field of video games, an area in which Japan is strong, smartphones are now the predominant platform, and we are confident that Japan’s young people are beginning to act with the world in their sights.