Saturday, April 11, 2009

Economic Stimulus and Soft Power

Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan recently unveiled the new Japanese economic stimulus plan and said that one area he wants to focus on is in capitalizing on Japan's soft power and hopes to create a large number of jobs in the anime and manga industry.

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan's manga and anime heroes could come to the rescue of the recession-hit economy, Prime Minister Taro Aso, an avid fan of the country's cartoons, said in a speech Thursday.

"The word 'manga' has entered the global lexicon... Japan has materials that attract consumers around the world such as animation, games, fashion -- so-called 'Japan Cool'," the conservative premier told a press conference.

As the world's number two economy is struggling with its deepest post-war recession, Aso said the government could facilitate overseas exports of manga, video games, fashion and other "soft power" cultural products.

"Many Japan-based fashion magazines enjoy top-level popularity" in the Chinese market, said the 68-year-old premier.

"By linking the popularity of Japan's 'soft power' with business, we wish to grow it into a major industry worth 20-30 trillion yen (200-300 billion dollars) and create 500,000 new jobs by 2020," he said in a speech.

Known for his sometimes gruff manner, Aso has sought to soften his image in recent years by casting himself as a Japanese "otaku" -- someone whose hobby borders on obsession -- by praising manga.

While this may seem like a good idea, it also runs counter to the trends that are occurring in the industry. Increased domestic production does not mean increased foreign consumption as you have to deal with licensing and distribution issues in your foreign markets.


AFP 2nd Link
Anime News Network

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