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Gackt lashes out at Cool Japan: 'Almost no results of Japanese culture exported overseas'

By RocketNews24

While visiting friends who were a part of the recent "Naruto" stage production, Japanese film and music star Gackt was left with a bad feeling. Having watched one of the overseas "Naruto" performances, the singer couldn’t help but notice the lack of people in the audience.

Gackt doesn’t rule out possible flaws with the play such as too much material crammed into a short time. However, as he wrote in a recent impassioned blog post, he thinks the real culprit may be the Japanese government and their Cool Japan promotional program, which he feels is anything but.

■ “I wonder if anyone in Japan actually understands what Cool Japan does?”

Cool Japan was an initiative set forward by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Its purpose was to promote Japan’s “creative industries” to foreign countries. To many, including Gackt, this would mean products such as music, film, manga, and anime to name a few. Yet the performer feels that the Cool Japan budget is being sent somewhere else.

“The Japanese government made a new attempt at this in the name of Cool Japan, but while they have set up a huge budget for it, they have no idea where that money should go. It’s no exaggeration to say it has fallen into a downward spiral of wasted tax money flowing into little known companies.

"Let’s assume that it is the right move for the money to go into these obscure companies. There still have been almost no tangible results of Japanese culture being exported into foreign countries. I can’t help but accuse METI of having no idea how to use this huge budget properly.”

Strong words, but is Gackt simply making Cool Japan a scapegoat for the low turnout for "Naruto," or is he on to something?

Mentioning how South Korean artists and projects get strong backing by their government, Gackt turned his sights on Japan’s own efforts to support its creative works.

“With Byung-hun Lee cast as the villain in the new 'Terminator' movie, we can see how the South Korean government is continuing to firmly push their culture.

"Meanwhile, what actors are representing Japan around the world? Ken Watanabe has been active overseas after the hit 'Last Samurai,' but the sad fact is that it was a private production without any support from the government whatsoever. And since Ken, no world-class Japanese actor has appeared.”

Earlier in the blog post as well, Gackt accuses the Japanese government’s lack of support of causing the country to fall behind its Asian neighbors in terms of cultural exports. He later begins to wind up the post on a somber note.

“But the Cool Japan budget is still floating in the air. Who the hell is this budget for? I wonder if anyone living in Japan actually understands what Cool Japan does. I wonder what Cool Japan does. How many people can clearly answer that question? It’s sad.

"Desolate feelings well up when I think about how my country is not keeping pace with the government/private sector cooperation of other developed nations. Can anyone fix this? Our next generation will not grow in this way.”

As for the question of what Cool Japan actually does, we thought we could answer that at one time. Back in 2013, we ran a few articles trumpeting Cool Japan’s pop-culture subcommittee which was going to light the world on fire with its 84 billion yen.

Since then, we kind of lost touch with Cool Japan. Back in 2014 we reported on a website they had set up called 100 Tokyo featuring places for tourists to visit while in Japan’s capital city. It was nice, but not 84-billion-yen nice.

And…that’s about it. Maybe it’s time to check in on them again.

So, to look into Gackt’s accusations, we decided to visit the Cool Japan Facebook page where surely, we thought, they would have put their sexier accomplishments. Upon opening the page, the top banner image advertised a website which opened over a year ago which was a little disheartening.

However, they have been making regular posts up to June of this year. Here’s one from April 20, 2015, so we can see what Cool Japan is up to these days.

▼ “[Information] We’ve posted the public schedule of individual projects for the Japan Brand Awareness Support Services. This is a project which teams up with small and medium-sized enterprises that have products utilizing the life and culture of Japan. We also provide continuous support towards overseas demand creation via market research, PR, commodity improvement, and distribution.”

After reading that, the word “cool” doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

Since it’s a government project, we can easily look deeper into what the Brand Awareness Support Services are up to via the Cool Japan website. Some companies that they provide support to include KCmitF, a company intending to sell “miscellaneous lifestyle products” such multi-layered cotton gauze and hand-blown glass to Singapore. There’s also Trunk Design who are looking to sell their handcrafted abacuses (abaci?) to Middle Eastern countries.

While supporting small businesses in this way is certainly a good thing, many are still left confused about what Cool Japan’s prime directive is these days. Back in 2013 it seemed gung-ho on promoting Japan’s pop culture of anime, manga, J-pop, and films. Now as noble an endeavor as promoting Japanese abacus and gauze makers is, the country doesn’t seem to be really putting its best foot forward on the international stage.

■ Just a catchy name?

So, as far as we could tell, Cool Japan appears to be more of a small business assistance program rather than the champion of vocaloids, idol groups, and Naruto musicals. We would assume that Cool Japan sees these entities as large enough to thrive on their own without government support. Instead they focus their efforts on what might become the next big thing.

That isn’t crazy logic at all, but as Gackt and many others before him have pointed out, South Korea has taken the opposite route by backing up its prime pop culture phenoms and as a result has reaped the benefits of fame in recent years.

Perhaps somewhere along the way Cool Japan had decided to change direction, or maybe we were all just misled by its name to be something cooler than it actually ever intended to be.

Sources: Gackt Blog, METI

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japan Pop Culture Subcommittee Formed to Show the World ‘Cool Japan’ -- Cool Japan has a plan! -- “Business Nail” – the latest trend among young Japanese businessmen looking to get ahead

© Japan Today

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Gackt hit the nail on the head. Domo arigatou.

40 ( +40 / -0 )

Because nothing says "cool" like a bunch of faceless bureaucrats and a government program....

36 ( +38 / -2 )

Can humanities be eliminated and art be promoted at the same time? But the problem is deeper. There is no excess once creativity is eliminated from a society in economic and intellectual decline. "Cool Japan" is a kind of propaganda with a budget to justify its existence and to be scarfed up by the ever-likely characters and groups. The Japan society also receives a huge portion of tax-payer money under the banner of "cool Japan" and even tries to express an intellectual justification (however weak and bankrupt). There is an elite who will benefit. The usual academics who make friends with (or are former) bureaucrats. The sad thing is that without a hint of accountability there is nothing to be done. It may take 20 or 30 more years for the situation to become clearer and a spirit of defiance to boil to the surface. Or it may never happen. There are many small powerless countries in the world.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

what many Japanese consider to be 'cool' is simply childish outside Japan.... fluffy toys, meaningless mascots and AKB48 lolitas don't really translate in the real world...

58 ( +62 / -4 )

METI? Ask yourself what kind of people work at METI and you will find both the problem and the solution. If the Japanese government wants to promote "Cool Japan" it would be better off giving grants to artists.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Because nothing says "cool" like a bunch of faceless bureaucrats and a government program....

Spot on. As soon as you say you are "cool", you aren't. It's like saying "trust me".

15 ( +17 / -2 )

While gauze and abaci makes "cool Japan" seem like an oxymoron, Nostromo has a good point. Many "cool" things in Japan wouldn't translate to a broad international audience. However, there is already a fairly substantial niche market around the world that is actually very into the (what most would consider) tacky and/or childishness Japan can offer, yet these denizens of the internet era have labeled such things as "cool" precisely because they aren't mainstream abroad and there isn't some huge government push to sell it.

That said, one must wonder what modern J-offering would be "cool" to the rest of the planet (other than porn) and what image Japan really wants of itself on the international stage (seriously, while Gackt may have a good point, the Naruto musical isn't exactly a great example of wide-reaching entertainment).

I'm really curious what the opening ceremony of the Olympics will present. Will it be lolitas and some dorky dancing mascots, or a clown dressed Beat Takeshi with a plastic hammer and some goof-ball talento doing a wacky obstacle course, or Naruto characters doing mock-fights, or even (I cringe to say) Showa style enka singers?

17 ( +19 / -2 )

commanteer & jb - exactly.

Nothing is so Uncool as a govt. department trying to promote what it thinks is Cool.

The antithesis of.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

If I were to generalize, Japan is not so good at appealing to western audiences. It's a very inward looking private place.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I love it when you people come out like this! Go GACKT GO!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I am sure speaking out critically is not a bureaucrat's idea of "cool" or "Japan."

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Perhaps they have aimed at the wrong audience. I strongly suggest the type of audience who would love Naruto doesn't go to stage plays. And people who go to stage plays are unlikely to enjoy the material. Why haven't I heard more Japanese pop and rock and metal groups on American radio? They can certainly compete in terms of talent, songwriting and performing.

the one export of Japanese culture people loved were horror movies. but the industry in Japan is both in a rut and far too extreme for most audiences in the West. Perhaps a little rethinking of that industry might help. I myself love the extreme, but I also know that most average film watchers don't. It also didn't help that the rights to the good movies were sold to Americans to make excruciatingly lame and boring remakes.

Pick the right audience, and the right media to export and I think it could succeed quite well. It would help if the people in charge genuinely loved the culture they're trying to exploit, er, export, and treated those media with love instead of financial considerations.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I'd really like to know how much of the Cool Japan budget goes into their garbage TV show where they have a handful of foreigners stroking the Japanese ego telling them how "cool" they think things are in Japan (most likely because they want the paycheck, not because they believe it). I can't stand watching that show for more than 5 minutes.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

One of the reasons you don't hear them on western radio is because most of these companies have no idea how to market their acts abroad, or go about it the wrong way..

5 ( +6 / -1 )

nostromoJul. 06, 2015 - 07:43AM JST

what many Japanese consider to be 'cool' is simply childish outside Japan.... fluffy toys, meaningless mascots and AKB48 lolitas don't really translate in the real world...

They are products targeted for children. They could be childish and cool.

How about Japanese automobiles, Japanese cuisine, and Sake?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It's possible that there is a place for all this stuff in the West. The amount of 'you are so lucky' I hear from people regarding having lived in Japan, surprises me.

A select crowd of people in my home country Australia would jump for this stuff (the Comicon crowd jump for all the anime stuff, there are Japanophiles too who would love all this too - there's room with regular audiences too), but it has to be: accessible, convenient, reasonably priced and different. If it can hit those characteristics in any basic area, no amount of 'to cool for school' attitude that some groups have is going to matter; it will get attention.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about having international consultants working with (younger) domestic visionaries for what could be hits abroad? I'm always surprised when I see what Cool Japan is trying to promote abroad. The committee is simply insular. Know your market before you try to promote something like chopstick holders.

I would fund/promote more artists, animators, illustrators, game developers, craftsmanship, designers, stationery companies, ornamental gardening techniques, pottery... The list can go on.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I am in the US. What I have seen in the last year that "might" have had some connection to the program: Hatsune Miku was on David Letterman one night, I saw that on random chance by leaving the TV on. Hulu has certain anime that appears on US streaming the same week it releases in Japan. I found that on random accident looking for something else. Babymetal played a few dates in NYC and LA. I only knew who they were due to word of mouth on Facebook. The concert dates were posted by the same person.

After seeing JAEA's "angry wife" mess in 2012, the govt. may want to hire some artists and marketing agencies to run these programs for them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why does all the cool about Japan should be around anime, manga or cosplay ?

Yeah, those are probably the three things I care about the least in Japan. And ironically, they are also probably the most likely to be considered uncool in other countries.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I dunno, there seems to be many x-amples of "cool" Japan on X-videos usually.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I can not speak to the efficacy of the Japanese government's efforts to promote Japan, however...

Ignoring, for the moment, the monster in the room (Godzilla) I do know that when the University of Hawai'i mounted a production of The kabuki play Chushingura, under the direction of Nakamura Matagoro II, it played to sold out houses for three weeks in Honolulu (8 performances per week) a sold out tour if the neighbor islands and then a six week coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. each performance sold out. Likewise, our production of Kanjincho, under the direction of James R Brandon & Onoe Kikunobu, also enjoyed a sold out run in Honolulu.

The annual Anime Expo at the Los Angeke Convention Center just finished, once again enjoying robust attendance. At the 2010 convention a live stage show, by a troupe from Tokyo, of a ghost story performed in Japanese, was enthusiastically received by the standing room only audience.

Perhaps it is the case, as noted above, that the material selected and how it is presented, are the critical factors in their success or failure to attract an audience. Clearly the interest exists and their are audiences willing to pay to see good films, plays and works of art.

Can the Japanese government do more? No doubt.

I, for one, would love to see more Kabuki here in the US. The NHK used to broadcast, weekly, kabuki plays. They have a vast library of classic plays featuring some of the greatest actors to grace not just the Kabuki stage but any stage in the world. The government should make those recordings available, at a very attractive price, in the US market. Will they be as big as Godzilla? Perhaps not, but wth time and patience the will find a following here in the US.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“Naruto” performances, the singer couldn’t help but notice the lack of people in the audience.

Probably because the stuff he is performing is not that good to those outside of Japan. Japan does have a lot of industries that are could be considered "cool" outside such as their cars (better than some US models), some of their electronics, and other items such as anime. Maybe some of the so called talent that they want to present just doesn't go over well.

As we saw in an earlier post here on JT about the comic trying to use a fake American accent to bridge difficult situations and how many of the posters said that her schtick just isn't funny, that could be the same for this campaign. People are more worldly these days, but humor and art is mostly local. There are a few cases where some shows transcend cultural boundaries and those that do, are not some product of the government, but based on the artistic creation done by the creators and actors. Just because the government stands behind it, doesn't mean that people will like it. That is where the Japan government misses the mark, the rest of the world doesn't need the government to tell them what is funny and what is cool.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just a catchy name.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

what kind of name is "Gackt"?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I thought Cool Japan was the time period now set in gold for when salary men do not have to wear ties. I guess I missed something here.

@Wakarimasen: Gackt is a name no one can pronounce.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I agree with Gackt but anime, manga, cosplay has a following in the west, not to mention that baby metal did a world tour .

1 ( +2 / -0 )

Gackt's last name is gakuto. I assume Gackt is a rendering of that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As others have said, bureaucrats wouldn't recognize cool if Bruce Lee walked into their office and starting kicking their ...

Give the money directly to artists, craftsmen, architects et al, giving particular attention to those with international experience and/or at least curious about the world beyond the archipelago, integrated as opposed to insular, and possibly set up cross-cultural teams with the countries they're targeting. What Americans or Poles or Kiwis find "cool" about Japan may vary widely.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm starting to gain a lot of respect for this Gackt guy.

Some Japanese culture is popular overseas, but the majority of the stuff is fluff - or fluffy stuffy.

I think those shamisen brothers should be promoted. They need to sport some bada$$ tattoos yakuza style, and come on stage with some fire and attitude, with a fire-breathing Godzilla dancing around on stage.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He's right. If you've actually seen where & by whom the "Cool Japan" idea came from - you'd understand. Absolutely lifeless office in a dingy building - youngsters absent.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Hmm.. Sounds like he applied for some support from "Cool Japan" for an overseas promotion and was turned down. This attack blog is the result.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Gackt for PM.

The Japanese people aren't so crappy that they can't do anything by themselves.

They don't need the government taxing people and spraying the money about indiscriminantly without significant results to show for it, on the contrary that's the opposite of what they need.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan's tin ear for propaganda strikes again. Either the cooleaucrats don't "get" overseas audiences and markets, or they don't care.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

That was some good comments by Gackt. We need more tarento like him!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What Gackt and METI don't get is that there never was a "Cool Japan" that could ever be exported. Other than sushi, the only Japanese culture to hit foreign shores is for the scattered nerds into manga.

Japan is a great place to visit, but the average visitor leaves with the same bemused smile you see in circus freak show tents.

4 ( +8 / -4 )


what many Japanese consider to be 'cool' is simply childish outside Japan.... fluffy toys, meaningless mascots and AKB48 lolitas don't really translate in the real world..


I think the Japanese government has been very active in pushing the image of 'Cool' Japan - almost as well as their pushing their right-wing ideas and forcing people abroad to rewrite history. The problem is, in both cases, the subject. I can be the best salesman in the world, but if all I'm selling is mouldy bread, then I'm not going to get anywhere.

No mature person is going to be interested in big fluffy toys. You're just attracting the outcasts.

Have a look at Japan's neighbours. China is sending out serious students who actively engage with the world, they're setting up institutes where people can learn about Chinese language and culture and is a major destination for students and tourists, despite obvious problems within the country. South Korea somehow managed to create a mega one-hit wonder, Psy, and there are plenty of female groups which consist of women acting like women, not some 8-year old Lolita-type girl.

Asking foreigners what they like about your country day in day out doesn't get you anywhere. Try asking them what they DON'T like, think about it and acknowledge it.

7 ( +8 / -2 )

Its a money grab, don't worry about results just line the pockets of the friends of Abe's Japanese companies

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Anime and manga will always have a very limited appeal outside Japan because most people are just not interested in that kind of stuff once they pass their 16th birthday.

All of J-Pop, all TV programs and most movies are also a total dead zone due to the stranglehold that the anti-talent production agencies hold over the industry.

Until the Japanese entertainment industry moves forward from its 1940s/50s structure, nothing will change, unfortunately.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Have a look at Japan's neighbours. China is sending out serious students who actively engage with the world, they're setting up institutes where people can learn about Chinese language and culture

Yup, in CA there are hundreds of those institutes. Definitely have stolen the limelight from "cool japan", if there ever was such a concept in the first place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How can a risk-averse, accountant-driven entertainment industry ever hope to manufacture (for that's the only verb in their lexicon) something so abstract and undefinable as cool?

There's plenty of cool in Japan, but it's a million miles culturally and intellectually from Nagatacho.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

'Almost no results of Japanese culture exported overseas'

Good, the last thing we want the world to know is his interpretation of Uesugi Kenshin.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Amen, SenseNot SoCommon

It's hard to take seriously a dude named "Gackt" but that aside, how often has the best of any culture been represented by govt. bureaucrats ?

Talent (not talento) rises to the top - in the 50s Japanese film was the best in the world - the majority of Japanese pop culture and film is pretty piss poor these days - if it wasn't more people would flock to it internationally with or without MITI's help - the success of HBO and other cable shows show that people are itching for quality acting, directing, writing, etc...when was the last time you saw a Japanese TV drama that was up to international standards?

There are probably a lot of great bands for example that could do with more exposure but that's true anywhere. The fact that the govt wants to use AKB48 for the Olympics' opening ceremony show a bit how clueless they are when it comes to what is 'cool' anyway -

7 ( +8 / -1 )

So this "cool japan" is to counter South Korean pop culture? Talk about insecurity...

Even in Korea, there's no term for Korean government's effort. There's the term "Korea Wave", but that term was created by the Chinese fans, not like Japanese government self designating "Cool Japan".

To be "cool", others outside of Japan has to feel it's "cool", no matter how much Japan declares as "cool".

And AKAB48 aren't going to cut it, other then maybe few strange pedophiles with fantasies for little school girls. Many foreign fans of Korean pop culture got into Korean pop culture, after first interested in Japanese anime and Jpop. Then they found out how immature Japanese pop culture was after comparing to Korean pop, and ended up switching for good. Japanese government officials should ask themselves why. Could it have anything to do with better content and better talent that appeals to broader fan base? No that can't be it. How can the stupid Koreans can do something better than us Japanese. It must be the weak Japanese government support which is causing Japanese pop culture to lose foreign fans.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

While its a bit unclear how the mere fact that a Korean star was cast in Terminator shows the effects of Korean government support for culture in that country, I do agree with the overall critique of the Cool Japan program.

I saw a presentation by a METI official 3 or 4 years ago about this. He was a bit older and didnt really seem to know much about what it is that makes certain Japanese cultural items cool overseas. If they were serious about actually promoting Japanese cultural exports it would make more sense to do so through subsidies to projects by artists, etc in a quieter manner rather than METIs own project - which is just a ridiculous shambles when viewed from the outside - the centre of attention.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Summer Sonic usually features real talent. This year it's Ariana Grande. Summer Sonic, where "cool japan" gets entertained.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

have more originality, why should japan follow in korea's footsteps.

Japan's culture isn't limited to senseless Jpops, idols. Japan should promote it's cleanliness, perseverance of historical relics, japanese ancient culture, politeness, japanese villages, nature sights, japanese food.. etc

idols will fade very fast, not japanese culture.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I know, change the name to "Def Zipangu" for that future retro feel.

I'll bet the government had no part in, for example, the artist Murakami doing all the artwork for that Kanye West disc some years ago. It was the artist's own rep and years of hard work that got him the job, not a bunch of suits in offices.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How can an establishment that seeks to prosecute vagina artist Megumi Igarashi claim to be cool?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We need to do a clean up here of people's opinions.

No one has ever heard of those obscure Japanese rock bands, including... Home Made Kazoku?

The last time I heard and been when i was in New Zealand, JapanDay (hosted by the consulate general of japan-auckland bilateral relations, and supported by ASB Community Trust, COGS Community, Japan Foundation, JETA)

was promoting REALLY... REALLY... quality cultural exports.

That's the reality of the true facts about japanese culture marketing? The last time I went to Japan Day in Auckland at Cloud 9, we were participating in all sorts, tanabata festivals, Caity Jay, Bon Odori, etc.... here's the site link http://www.nzdaisuki.com/tmp/04-05stage_web.jpg . And NONE, not much, about all those Pop Idols and so on..

People, let us not fall and sink into the tar of negativity that these individuals give on JapanToday... what you hear is at least 20% of the story, and the stereotypes within it. And plus, JPOP is actually consisting of J-Rock, J-blues, etc... and they actually sound better than their korean counterparts. They are just not marketed, paid attention to and properly spent enough on!

But Freshmeat, rainyday, and others are right. The Govt knows much to about none, on how to export the japanese culture (properly) to other foreign countries. But let me tell you, other countries are like that too. NZ, Malaysia, etc (where i was born), they have the same thing in common. Bureaucracy, improper spending, and so on. But if someone wants to raise the issue about China (there's gonna be one!)

The reason why China is doing far better than others is because they are on a whole different level. They have a completely different, and more rich history compared to Japan, different culture but a huge gap on similarities, etc. No country is the best, each country has it's own worth. Japan NEEDS to stop competing and start selling what you're really good at innovating.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Cultural exports become exports organically, through their own merit. The fact that nothing Japanese exists out side of Japan in mainstream circles, simply shows that nothing of mainstream merit is made in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Some have already said it, but as with a long of things that Japan finds 'cool' about itself, no one else knows about, or if they do they are more likely to find it 'bizarre' at best, and 'a crime' at worst (like sexing up little girls and sending them overseas as 'kawaii ambassadors' or what have you). Japan DOES have a few more names that are popular or growing than perhaps the article and Gackt let on (Baby Metal seems to be doing quite well, and a lot of Manga and Anime are huge overseas), but Gackt is right that other nations are doing far more and far better. SK, which he mentions, is a prime example.

So, we need to stop these bureaucrats TELLING people what's cool (and then pulling the inevitably defensive, "You don't understand Japanese culture!"), and actually getting more feedback from foreigners overseas (not just residents) and backing that. As for the money being wasted, is there any doubt at all?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

there is a huge difference between cool, kakkoi, and cute, kawaii. no japanese person i know would call AKB kakkoi. pop culture is only one of five areas that japan is trying to promote. other areas concern unique products from japan.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This is the definition of gacked from the urban dictionary gacked out. To be real real real high, on meth, crack, PCP or whatever gets you fuz

Can it really be so?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan doesn't have cool culture to export. Talent-less idols, boring movies, childish cartoons, stupid looking mascots, etc. The outsiders they're targeting are the ultra nerd dweebs who are into things like AKB48 and Anime despite being over 30. Japan isn't what I would call COOL by any measure. In fact I feel downright embarrassed for them at times. Seeing women over 40 obsess over Hello Kitty says it all. This country worships childishness and immaturity; not just in behavior but even in appearance.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

He is only upset because he had not been included in Cool Japan. He is not cool.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

WatchingStuffJul. 06, 2015 - 06:21PM JST

Japan isn't what I would call COOL by any measure.

Very interesting. Which country has cool culture by your definition?

By the way, I do not think Hollywood movies or smartphones cool.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I get it now. I am a dumb hockey thing. Gakt does not wear a tie. That is great. He understands cool.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

On a trip to Taiwan 2 years back, I came across a very cheap DVD shop selling boxed sets of TV programs around the world. I told the clerk I wanted to practice my Japanese with a good drama and what she could recommend. Answer?: You should learn Korean, as those dramas are so much better. She lost a sale, but even if the clerk can't recommend something good, that doesn't make Japan look cool.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

To me, an American living in Japan, even the name 'cool Japan' sounds like a term dreamed up on one of those childish game shows with a laugh track. Surely there must be some smart Japanese folks who can focus the bucks where they will really do some good.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Cool Japan? What exactly are we talking about here? Cosplay Lolitas, Young men that spend more time doing their hair and make up than any woman I have ever known, Manga comics and cartoons that most foreign people grow out of in their mid-teens and the never-ending stream of Sailor Moon underwear. Wear is the 'cool' Japan?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan is a culture that consistently allows for silliness and poor taste to rule. While she could have leaned toward artistic integrity, she went with the 'if it sells in Japan, it's fine' route. The low road, as it were. Like everything else, the all mighty market rules, and because in the case of creative things like music, art, etc., the common person's poor opinion matters most, as the money men cater to the buying audience, and the creative person becomes secondary or even lower in the line of importance, and thus you create something like a Cool Japan that cannot be cool, because there is no real precedent of emphasizing and prioritizing character over quick sale. Silly things sell in Japan because silly people want silly things, and there is no room for the soul of art, it's all about instant gratification for the buyer, and money for the maker. Thought provoking things takes too much energy, and isn't strictly good cost performance...better to go cheap and make money than do things right...so the simple, easy thing...anime, sex, etc....are the mainstream of 'cool Japan'.

It's interesting how it is Gackt, the guy who looked androgynous at best and feminine at worst, in naked, but apparently not showing penis, photo shoots (for one of the real problems, the Magazine House publishing firm,) which was exploitation of really tacky and laughable 'coolness' on his part. He looked really stupid, then got an ad for some male esthetic firm that also showed him in the buff, as an ad. Not even Tom Cruise is this tacky. Tom knows he'd get called out for it. Gackt wouldn't get called out for it, because the japanese won't criticize their own. Gackt is fine with his hypocrisy, or probably just ignorant that he has done some real eye rolling 'we're laughing at him, not with him' crap in his career, that just reinforces the issue of stupid 'Cool Japan', and how no one knows what cool really is, whether it's a politician or a 'star' entertainer. In other words, Gackt has no idea what cool is and is complaining about it. He should go to Cool Japan anonymous and repent his soul to integrity and real substance, first.

Magazine House was the one responsible for such things as how young men are to go out on dates with women, and give them the entire run down on how to get laid, in detail to the right love hotel, etc. Kind of like a how to go on a date and have sex manual. Very organized and scripted. Very cool, apparently.

No ideal of romance, of course, that isn't Cool Japan. Heart and soul just don't really exist, here, at least it isn't on the shelves of the combini's, but betting Gackt's picture is there, somewhere.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Personally, when Cool Japan was a new thing , I was very surprised they didn't make documentaries covering aspects of Japan outsiders rarely see.

Things like travel, food and general culture. And no, not a "oiishiiii!! this is oishi! Isn't it Oishi!???" tv show... something along the lines of what Rick Steves did for Europe.


I believe, done tastefully as Rick Steves does, that there would be huge interest in getting a look at local festivals, traditions etc in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't see any mention of where he was when he was visiting friends? It just says an overseas production so it could be in a country not yet aware of Japan's 'cool' campaign.

I think he is just annoyed for his friends that the play did not attract an audience. As for this guy, I don't think I have heard of him despite his unusual name. In some countries, not even relatively well exposed actors like Watanabe would pull in a crowd because he is just well known enough. So imagine what it's like for this guy Gackt - even if he was not performing, just visiting, and whoever his friends are.

Regarding Japanese actors making a name for themselves, has he not heard of Hiroyuki Sanada? Who was in that same film The Last Samurai. He has been in almost as many western films as Ken Watanabe and is probably just as good an actor if not better. And The Last Samurai was an American film, mostly filmed in NZ and sets in LA, with only a couple filmed in Japan, for e.g. Himeji castle. And why was that? Because authorities in Japan made sure that filming in Japan was too expensive!!

To a lesser extent, Tadanobu Asano.

Hirokazu Kore-Eda's films are well known to film fans who appreciate Japanese-made films. Beat Takeshi also (I have watched Zatoichi just as many times as The Last Samurai if not more).

Anyway, Japan calling itself cool is cringey and try-hard. A lot of people go to Japan unaware of this 'cool' campaign and enjoy it just fine, as people have been for decades, so Japan does not need to try so hard.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Cool Japan should be about supporting new, creative businesses, but instead it's being taken over by big business," Kota Matsuda, an opposition party member of Japan's upper house of parliament and founder of Tully's Coffee Japan, told CNBC.

According to Matsuda, most of the Cool Japan projects have been tied to its shareholders, like the 11 billion yen project for a TV channel that will broadcast Japanese content in local languages. It is a joint venture by Sky Perfect JSAT, of which Cool Japan chairman Kazunobu Iijiima is a board member, and its umbrella company Fuji Media Holdings, another Cool Japan shareholder.

So far, almost all the projects that have been funded by the Cool Japan Fund have been tied to its shareholders, according to Matsuda. One example is the 11 billion yen joint venture to launch a new television channel to broadcast Japanese content in local languages. Cool Japan Fund's chairman Kazunobu Iijima is a board member of the private sector partner, cable channel operator Sky Perfect JSAT, which in turn is a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings, another Cool Japan Fund shareholder and one of Japan's biggest media conglomerates.

If by Cool Japan we mean Japanese business as usual (graft, nepotism, conflict of interest, OB's having their way) then things seem to be right on track.


2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan doesn't need any "Cool Japan" thing. Its culture is already very known and appreciated around the world, and not only by"nerds".

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I think Gackt needs to appreciate is that you need to build the product before selling it to the rest of the world, Hatsune Miku has become a global success and Baby metal is following in it's footsteps. But both of these were polished products with a lot of international interest before they hit the global road. Even Danny Choo (who I believe has something to so with the cool Japan program), has spent years building his brand and focusing it on the South East Asian Market, to cement his "product" before he tries to take on the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see a surprising lack of discussion about 'games', and frankly I think this is related to maybe some kind of cultural stigma in Japan that perceives video games as not having the significance that they really have.

Face it, there is an entire contingent of 30-plus people who grew up with video games, by and largely an area where Japan had a very significant leadership position in, and there's a ton of goodwill towards Japan and Japanese culture because of this.

Why initiatives like this get stuck on anime shows and the like instead of focusing on the kind of 'mass media' that actually has resonated with a lot of western audiences is just beyond me.

Look at the reactions that reveals like Shenmue 3, FF7 and The Last Guardian had at last year's E3 to see what some of these games mean to a lot of people.

This might be Japan's only and last great cultural export that crosses language barriers yet there is almost no effort made by the Japanese government or initiatives like this to double down on it. In the past PS3/360 generation, a lot of ground was lost to western game developers who flooded the marketplace with a gluttony of war-based shooters. This generation, Japan is losing more and more interest in game consoles which leads to a reduced presence on these consoles, while the west still votes with their money when it comes to these game consoles.

The solution is very simple: "awesome or cool Japan" is nothing without video games. Pigeonhole them whatever you want, but westerners simply don't give a shit about anything else coming out of Japan. Best go with what you actually have and that actually might get you some results, because J-pop or anime sure isn't going to do it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like beaurocrats knew what art was.... Gakt, although a dick, actually has a point. any decent artist in Japan wouldnt touch this government with a long pole. hence the conundrum. Aiming for koreas massive achievemnets on the world stage however, may be setting the bar a wee bit low. Samurai Fiction is cool Japan. Youjimbo toka.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We had a course about ''cool Japan'' in Joichi last week. Very interesting, but I think the subject is more interesting than what Cool Japan is. I mean, a lot of cool things in Japan are just considered weird oversea. The anime with 12-13 years old girls (pretending to be 20) in bikini doesn't help it. Nor the weird games on tv. But still it's working since a lot of people from the West think that this is actually cool... Like Akihabara, the worst spot in Tokyo, but very famous oversea. I seriously can't go there or my mood is wasted for the day. Oh also, the show about asking gaijins what they dislike and like about Japan... they asked me last year to participate and I never understood the purpose of this show (I don't understand the purpose of 99,99% of what pass on tv here anyway).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cool Japan is a copy of the Cool Britain campaign concept run by the Blair government nearly ten years ago. That campaign also was critized within the UK for being ineffective. Government bureaucrats underestimate how difficult it is to run image campaigns using cultural assets that are successful abroad. Many have tried, most have failed. Japan certainly has a lot to offer in the area of culture but what can be used under the Cool umbrella is hard and will never please everyone. Ultimately it's the audience you want to reach and attract that will decide what's successful and what isn't. With this in mind it might be advisable to have some foreigners involved in such a venture, There are many who understand Japan and its culture well and would know how to present it effectively abroad. Will this happen? I doubt it but it's certainly worth a try.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If you're a Brit.... when someone asks you "What surprised you about Japan when you first arrived?"

1) The police carry guns... it's scary!

2) You have adverts for hospitals at train stations. Back home, healthcare is free. It's a service, not an industry.

Tend to kill most conversations.... : )

3 ( +3 / -0 )

At Expo 2015 in Milan Japan pavillion is the most visited together with Brazil's and Saudi Arabia's. Brazil's is very loved because of a virtual net that makse people hear the sounds of the jungle, Saudi Arabia's because is the most futuristic and technological one. Japan's, simply because it's pavillion of Japan. This says a lot about how strong Japanese soft power is. It's weird like the failure of a Naruto play is considered more important than the huge success of Japan at Expo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Have to add my two cents to all the yawn totally expected and ignorant anti-Idol comments that abound here.."AKB48 this and 48 Lolitas that"...

Idols are decades long Japanese pop culture phenomenon. It is a common misconception to deride them as no-talent cuties of the month...this is really sad and too bad. There are so many more Idol groups than the "48" groups, and even they have some wonderful performers and songs and have also done much to help lift the spirits of Japan and the Tohoku region with tireless appearances and efforts.

These girls work harder than anyone in show business and hardly get paid. They work tirelessly to make people smile and inspire people, not only in Japan, but all over the world. The majority of fans outside of Japan, and increasingly IN Japan, are actually young females, who look up to Idols as a source of inspiration and role models and work ethic..

From Momoe Yamaguchi, inthe 1970's one of the most talented singers and performers of all time to modern groups as diverse as Little Glee Monster, Tokyo Girls Style, ANGERME, ℃-ute, Morning Musume '15, BABYMETAL, Ayami Muto, Momoiro Clover Z, Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku, Anna☆S, BELLRING Shoujou Heart and so many more...

Idol music/performance have genres of music as diverse as pop music itself and something for everyone. If there was ever a positive, fun & cool pop culture phenomenon to promote proudly to the rest of the world, it is this.

Amuse, the company who manages BABYMETAL understand this and have done an exemplary job of promoting their act worldwide to much acclaim and success with not one misstep.

I also have to say to casually dismiss these young girls feels more than disingenuous, it smacks of misogyny and sexism.

Like I stated, no one works harder than these girls (AND they go to school!!) and tries harder. They deserve our support and respect.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

With my earlier post I didn't mean to say that Japan pavilion isn't beautiful. It is amazing, but its big success is also very deeply linked to the general strong attraction that Japan is able to induce in people around the world. Its being very insular is one of its major points of strenght, because it's considered very different from the West and this is a reason of huge interest. Most of people in the West are not interested in Asian telenovelas or pop music, but basically everyone knows samurai, sushi, geisha.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Excellent article!! Good job digging so deep. Bureaucrats that can piss away millions of dollars... and get exposed by a celebrity on their completely directionless idea. I hope this goes further and gets a little deeper coverage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I doubt the result of a Naruto stage production can give a real idea about the status of Japanese soft power. But I agree with the fact Cool Japan isn't necessary since Japanese culture always gained popularity without any particular government support, indeed this expression - cool Japan - wasn't even created in Japan, but in the Anglosaxon world to explain the success of Japanese soft power.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I didn't think much of Gakt until I read this article. I am now a fan. Japanese bureaucrats love to push their culture on us because THEY think it's cool.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It must make Japanese government official's stomachs churn when they see their recently sponsored Japan Cultural Festival in Thailand, where all 60 "JPOP" dance covers were actually Thais choosing to perform KPOP covers instead. There was not a single JPOP cover performance by the Thai dancers who'd rather go for KPOP. This must have made the Japanese sick to the stomach.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Kpop is very popular in Asia. In Europe isn't mainstream, about the US I don't know it. Anyway despite Cool Japan I don't think Japanese government is interested in pushing around the world national music as much as Korean government, if this was the case you would have less strict copyright laws on Japanese music on Youtube. Inner market is still the priority. As I already said, Japan doesn't need any big support by the government to spread its culture around the world. Food, fashion, games, literature, comics, cartoons, traditional arts are already part of worldwide imaginery and this happened naturally.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Kpop is very popular in Asia. In Europe isn't mainstream, about the US I don't know it.

In the US, no one in my circle listens or even heard of Kpop, although Gangnam style was popular. Still, I'm sure American's caught on with that song because the tune is catchy, the music video is funny and nothing else.

In my opinion, Asian culture comes down to China or Chinese looking stuff (as it is the bedrock of Asian culture) and Japan has a place with the whole samurai, ninja, anime stuff.

If you're not really into Asian culture, the knowledge is really more limited to stereotypes more than anything else....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gackt is right on many of his observations. An err I find is the name 'Cool Japan' , it just doesn't 'catch the attention. The word 'cool' could be used in the description i.e. What's hot, hip, and cool in Japan today." There is plenty. The Japanese Govt does need to 'promote' itself more, i.e. again,...I thought that it would be great if Japan had chartered at least two flights of fans to Vancouver to support the Japanese Girls soccer team. It's about 'support'.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In my earlier post by "worldwide imaginery" I meant worldwide collective imagination. My English is pretty awful sometimes. :-P

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kpop is very popular in Asia. In Europe isn't mainstream, about the US I don't know it

Asia represents like world's half the population and market. Selling Japanese/Korean products to China is more profitable than selling to America. For instance, China's mobile phone market is bigger than US. Do you really think Japanese government don't care about their J-pop-culture image in Asia where most of their profit will come from? I think this is why Japanese government's Cool Japan will not easily dismiss the Asian consumers just because they are not Americans or Europeans. As for Europe and US, yes, K-pop-culture is not as popular as it is in Asia. But there's a strong undercurrent of K-pop-subculture (like there is a subculture of Japanese anime). Those people who follow the K-sub-culture are too ashamed to admit it, but they are there in significant numbers. Why do people here think Japanese government's "Cool Japan" campaign is wanting to emulate what South Korea is supposedly doing? Japanese wrongly misunderstand how K-culture was promoted, thinking that it's entirely and strictly Korean government driven and promoted, when that's not the case at all.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He is right. I'm a drama fan, Korean and Japanese dramas. The Korean drama community is so large, Its easy to access with an army of subbers , translators and bloggers working constantly to bring the latest dramas to us English speakers, to let us know who is who, what projects are coming up, what is the news daily on the k pop/drama /movie scene. Great sites like (Drama Beans, Soompi, Viki.) and many more, It is so so WELCOMING and FUN.

Japan on the other hand is very hard to access has very few translators and subbers getting drama or j pop / movie news is fractured and hard to find and is constantly been taken down. It just makes you feel like Japan don't care about international fans and we are not important and not wanted at all. I have almost given up looking at entertainment from Japan now and stick to Korean entertainment because It is much easier to find and follow.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What SmallTown says.

There are tons of K-culture sites and blogs started and run by non-Korean fans, where nationalities from all countries participate and comment on their favorite stars and shows. They're the ones who are really promoting the country, not the Korean government which is basically a nuisance or hindrance, instead of being any help. Something that Japanese government should pick up on, in which they haven't.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When I saw this program on TV Japan (on cable) here in the states, I thought WTH ! This is 2015 ! Are they still making this type of show ? I had hoped they had quit by now. I saw a few programs of this type in the 80's and 90's.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Papi2013Jul. 07, 2015 - 07:13AM JST

Selling Japanese/Korean products to China is more profitable than selling to America

Only after copyright law is enforced in China.

SmallTownJul. 07, 2015 - 07:49AM JST

The Korean drama community is so large, Its easy to access with an army of subbers , translators and bloggers working constantly to bring the latest dramas to us English speakers,

You mean pirate versions? Is it blessing or headache? The government has a lot to do in this area.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cool Japan is a copy of the Cool Britain campaign concept run by the Blair government nearly ten years ago. That campaign also was critized within the UK for being ineffective.

I recently watched a documentary "The BBC at War" that discussed how the BBC covered it's first time in war during WW2. One of the things that came out was that the owners/directors of the BBC were very "high minded" in regards to what they thought radio broadcasting should be, and as a result had strict rules on what would be aired in regards to popular entertainment with music and variety shows and news, think of the Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey and you get the picture. By late 1942, with the arrival of large numbers of US GI's, they found that the BBC broadcasts were not interesting, and the music and news so bad that they would start tuning into Radio Berlin. The BBC wouldn't change their programming so they recommended that the US troops broadcast their own signal. As a result, Armed Forces Radio Network (AFRN) started and surprisingly the GI's tuned in but was not expected, the British citizens (younger crowd) began tuning in and listening to the popular music (Big Band sound like Benny Goodman, etc). They started listening so much that BBC listeners dropped dramatically so much so that the BBC considered options of limiting the AFRN broadcasting times or reducing the power of their signals so that they couldn't get picked up over larger areas of Britain.

Cool Japan is like this in regards to the stiff shirts who were in charge of the BBC during WW2, not understanding what the people want, and trying to force artists and patrons to come around to what they "think" they should like, and it never works. Those in charge of Cool Japan would do themselves a big favor and take a look at that documentary and figure out a better way of at least funding the entertainers to work independently.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I understand Gackt's sentiments, however I think he is barking up the wrong tree, I don't think it's the government's fault why people from overseas don't appreciate the materials from Japan lately, he should blame the J-producers. Unfortunately Japan keeps on producing bad materials these past few years that only target Japanese audience.

J-Music, Japanese producers invest more on looks over talent. Unfortunately people overseas are not into kiddie idol groups like AKB48 etc. Yes the otakus will be into it but it won't revolutionize as how Ryuichi Sakamoto, Utada Hikaru, Southern All stars, Joe Hisaishi etc. did as these artists invest on quality than attracts people abroad. International producers also invest on looks, however at least these talents can sing unlike AKB48 etc.

J-Movies and drama, same as J-music, they produce and target Japanese audience only. They keep on using bad actors, bad casting and crappy boring stories. Gone are the Kurosawa days as again the producers only focused on quick profit and they are too timid to gamble. Plus they produce more Variety shows than narrative dramas/movies as again it's a quick and easy production, less effort, all they need are cute girls and goofy guys talking about foreigners and food, which will bore the audience abroad.

However I don't believe that all materials from Japan aren't selling. Anime and J-Porn are still dominating! ;-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

AlphaapeJul. 07, 2015 - 09:40AM JST

not understanding what the people want, and trying to force artists and patrons to come around to what they "think" they should like, and it never works.

I do not follow your logic here. AFRN came from America and aired what they think GIs like, but, surprisingly, young Britons listened to AFRN.

We are talking about "exporting culture" here, aren't we? If the exporter changes everything for the tastes of importers, all the exoticness is lost and the product becomes second line to domestic products of the importing country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We are talking about "exporting culture" here, aren't we? If the exporter changes everything for the tastes of importers, all the exoticness is lost and the product becomes second line to domestic products of the importing country.

@ CH3CHO: My point was that AFRN did follow the guidelines set up for government censors but the rest of the broadcasts weren't government driven and trying to promote what it thinks the world wants, unlike the BBC who thought that they knew what was best. It left it up to the people. The young Britons picked up on this, and decided that they liked the music from the Americans rather than what the BBC suits thought what was good for them. Same concept as to why Cool-Japan is not doing well. What they are pushing, the people in the rest of the world don't want to see or hear. What they could do is make sure that the artists have the venue to get their work across, and not try to push what they think is "cool" upon the rest of the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Ironic that this video probably have accomplished the cool Japan effort 100 million times more effectively than what the government tried to do in the past decade.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Idol music/performance have genres of music as diverse as pop music itself and something for everyone. If there was ever a positive, fun & cool pop culture phenomenon to promote proudly to the rest of the world, it is this.

TOTALLY!!! The diversity of one idol song to another is really like the difference between being pushed and falling! It has something for everyone indeed and NOT just those with an unhealthy obsession with fleeting youth and underage girls. I mean, between the complex lyrical prose of babymetal's "Give Me Choco" and the countless AKB songs that really tackle all the important issues while having fun, (PINK! SHOPPING!) There is definetly something for any fan of music. I for one really appreciate the way that all of the music comes from speakers instead of instruments! Really, PLAYING a musical instrument in 2015 when you can just have it all digitally created by a producer is kind of old fashioned and crass...

The rest of the world is really missing out on all the bublegum fun princess happy chu chu yaaaaaay!!! wave of cool Japan. We foreigners should be happy our lives and ears are constantly penetrated with this wonderful music and happy fun feeling time! It is truly one of the perks for living here in "cool" Japan!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like I stated, no one works harder than these girls (AND they go to school!!) and tries harder. They deserve our support and respect.

I don't know about that... there are laborers, educators, nurses, farmers, rescue workers, emergency response groups etc. who are so under appreciated for do hard jobs. What you are saying puts so much discredit to these professions I do not even know where to start.

In regard to the groups themselves - what is the point of always trying when you still sound terrible live? You can "ganbarimasu" all you like, but if the end result isn't good - it isn't good. (Have you seen the late night programs where they have karaoke battles? They take up challenging songs and sing off key and totally chicken out of the high belts and so they rearrange the songs to take out the challenging parts.)

At least in the past idols, could dance AND carry a tune. These days, vocally, they cannot compete with those that have built their careers on voices alone. Dance wise, they can't compete with dedicated dancers. Lookswise, well its a mixed bag. They just end up being okay at all three.

Don't get me wrong, they have used their fame to do some good, but let's not pretend here alright?

I will admit their PR team is genius, though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He is definitely gacked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The un-coolest thing you can possibly do is label yourself cool and try to advertise to the world that you're cool.


-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Papi: you are wrong when you put kpop and anime on the same level in Europe. Kpop is a subculture. Anime is also mainstream. Everybody in Italy knows Dragon Ball, Heidi, Candy Candy, Naruto, One Piece, Doraemon, etc. Only cosplay an otaku-oriented anime are subculture. But you have your average Italian family who watch Doraemon and Nobita adventures on Italian tv during dinner. Kpop is only for a niche of people on internet. Japanese animation is part of mainstream culture since the 70s.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@bicultural: yeah, some articles seem being written to please Korean, Chinese, American or whatever they are nationalists. Who cares what Gatck said only because its Naruto stage performance wasn't succesfull? Who cares about Cool Japan? The truth is that Japan is more interested in its inner market but despite this, its soft power is still huge around the world, it isn't fading away. Hollywood makes tons of movies based on Japanese original stories. Stand by me Doraemon was a record movie in China. Japanese food is loved all around the world. Young people in Italy want to become mangaka. All the modern cartoons and comics are heavily influenced by Japanese style. Murakami books are best sellers around the world. People in Italy start to do hanami. Chinese people think Japanese goods are status symbol. But apparently to some people soft power it's all about telenovelas and pop music.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Forgot about Miyavi, he was the main villain in Angelina Jolie's last big directorial movie. Ken Watanabe wasn't the last Japanese actor to be seen overseas. I'm sure there is probably more but that is the one that came to mind when reading, "And since Ken, no world-class Japanese actor has appeared" I guess he's not considered world class by some?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese tattoos/tattoo artists are considered pretty cool around the world. Many are considered the most talented in their crafts in the world. I'd like to see the government promote them and their artwork. I won't be holding my breath.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“With Byung-hun Lee cast as the villain in the new ‘Terminator’ movie, we can see how the South Korean government is continuing to firmly push their culture.

“Meanwhile, what actors are representing Japan around the world? Ken Watanabe has been active overseas after the hit ‘Last Samurai,’ but the sad fact is that it was a private production without any support from the government whatsoever. And since Ken, no world-class Japanese actor has appeared.”

In other words,

・ One South Korean actor cast in a Hollywood movie = South Korean government is "continuing to firmly push their culture" implying that Japan is not, or Japan is somehow not doing as well

・ Ken Watanabe is "active" overseas but it doesn't matter because he wasn't subsidized by the Japanese government. It is further the Japanese government's fault that other actors have not reached his level recently.

What kind of crazy logic is this?

Gackt, your point about Cool Japan being out of touch is important, but your examples don't make any sense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I met a Japanese guy who'd lived outside Japan for 20+ year and worked in Event Promotion and marketing most of that time, with various projects ties to Japan and the country he was at at the time.

A connection, an ex-senpai, convinced him to come back to Japan as a consultant to help them with Cool Japan

Sounds good right?

He proceeded to tell me that those who issue and those who distribute the funds to mostly Dentsu, Hakuhodo & ADK, direct it to black holes presented to them by these companies. There's very little build get that isn't used this way, but somewhere within the huge team involved, there are people who are passionate about helping Japan or at least want to have some real impact.

Almost in despair: that's what they've hired him to do. To try to find real firms representing Cool Japan that have a chance to have some impact.

The problem with the big companies is they are never held accountable and have no success stories, no information to give about how the money was used and what it achieved.

If what he was saying is half true, it explains a lot and is sad.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

CH3CHO. Thank you for your thoughts (You mean pirate versions? Is it blessing or headache? )

A mixed bag I would say , while I have had the opportunity too watch pirate versions or not, I have also enjoyed dramas so much, I have then purchased the box set. This has also given me knowledge of the who is who of the various dramas from great actresses and actors to writers and directors etc. Which I then wanted to watch more of. An example of this would be Game Of Thrones, I could not access this on my own TV subscriptions, so i watched it on line. I loved it so much I have bought the box sets. I then discovered my father loved it so I bought him the book collection as he loves to read . Then, add in, that some times I do not have time with work and family commitments to spend all my leisure time watching every drama produced. This is where I enjoy (Drama Beans...Amazing writers) they watch it and then they give an episode by episode account of what is happening on a weekly basis as it airs . I read the recaps which they provide and then decide if i want to watch the full series or follow their review of what has happened or put it in my (Watch Later/Buy List) .. I am not some anti japan person or some how pro where ever I am from, nationalist, I would truly love to have access to the Japanese entertainment industry as i have to others . Smalltown...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nothing says cool Japan like stalking out and then shoving a camera in a tourist's face at Narita and harassing them with "YOU! What are you doing in Japan?!" until they say something positive that reminds everyone watching TV how great it is to be Japanese.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

METI, obviously trying to operate on the edge of their creative abilities, was attempting to ride on the coattails of a British campaign called 'Cool Britannia', which perhaps they didn't realize was a pun on the name of an old Imperialist hymn called 'Rule Britannia'. The joke, back in the Tony Blair era, was funny the first time you heard it...not so much so by the tenth. Its adoption here suggests how restricted is the competence zone of certain bureaucrats and their advisors, and how utterly lost they are once they stray outside of it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

cool japan is only a word with no real substance. there are budget and things behind but not any of them can even be described as cool.

i even have a special feeling of sympathy for the girls in AKB48, yes they work hard, and maybe they deserve respect. but, looking at how creative they are in their performance, comparing it with other known video music from outside, it does not get even close, they look more like children dancing around, really.

also, i have this feeling that they are somewhat being exploited by the operating industry, from whatever talent they really have and can project it to the world "on their own" creation and effort. not from the industry's requirements or others' influence. i think everybody can do what AKB is doing, it just seems nothing new, except that they do it in a luxurious way, with helicopters flying around, but it just boring.

of course they deserve respect, but they don't deserve to be exploited, that is not cool at all, they deserve to grow on their own individual talent, not to be distracted from any outside power or management. they deserve to conduct their own, from their own originality. and they will have alot more to offer, than being grouped and directed and perhaps harrassed (who knows).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article makes me so sad that they are going the wrong way about it, because honestly, there is a HUGE market for Japan outside its borders that they just don't understand because - yes - no one is asking the gaikokujin what they want.

Fringe market for mascots and anime aside, every freaking tween girl in California right now is obsessed with vocaloids and they all want Japanese language lessons. Im rushed off my feet!

Cosplay is becoming more and more mainstream, especially with people holding theme parties and the crossover of certain internet only games etc into the mainstream.

Bon Odori is fascinating to everyone I speak to, people want to go and see Taiko performances and even start learning it themselves, hana mi is becoming more and more popular, Japanese art, Japanese gardens are everywhere.... I could go on and on but there is a definite fascination with Japan - just give them what they WANT.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe it is because, oh, I don't know, "cool" and "government promotional campaigns" are kinda, well, oxymoronic...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You're not cool when you have to pay crapload of money to tell people that you're "cool"

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I don't know who this Gackt bloke is but he's right.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gackt can lash out at me anytime that he likes. Having said that, I have to agree with Gackt on this issue. Why isn't Gackt starring in countless American films? He is both good looking and can act... I am not just saying that because I am a Malice Mizer fan... I also like SKIN.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry for coming to this discussion so late- I just discovered the article moments ago.

im not sure what Cool Japan is currently up to, but at the time of this article’s being written, it was very toxic. Much of the United States’ exposure to Cool Japan was through Facebook and the NHK World app/webcasts, and both were very unpleasant and deliberately repressive of the actual cool Japanese content we really wanted. Cool Japan carried out a few in depth questionnaires in connection with J-Melo (tepid music export show on NHK World), and it became offensively evident that they were trying to squelch Japanese Visual Kei, Rock, fashion subcultures, and a lot more- the real cool Japan. The questionnaires would not allow us to say that we liked any bands beyond the milquetoast pop that they approved of. I have no doubt they deleted my unacceptable feedback.

So what had Cool Japan really been up to to that point? Dishonest government propaganda campaigns.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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