Effect of Japanese Pop-culture on Diplomacy

Updated July 17, 2021

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Effect of Japanese Pop-culture on Diplomacy essay

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According to Kartikasari (2018), diplomacy has been traditionally used as a tool for foreign relations. It is also seen as an art of elevating the national interest to another countries in a variety of approaches. As what Kartikasari (2018) stated, there are 2 standard concepts which should be considered as a public diplomacy and a cultural diplomacy. With the public diplomacy, overseas public thoughts get influence through media or cultural exchange by the willingness of the state’s public diplomacy. On the other hand, the cultural diplomacy which is a part of the public diplomacy is used to fight for the national interest through the cultural aspect.

Iwabuchi (2015) represented that the nation’s cultural diplomacy was given an impulse to diminish other countries’ perception in the postwar era. Therefore, Japan has been trying to boost their cultural diplomacy to decrease the anti-Japan thoughts all over the world, especially in the Southeast Asia. According to Kartikasari (2018), many popular Japanese products have been manufactured and traded to the East and Southeast Asia such as HongKong, Vietnam or Indonesia. Besides that, some famous anime characters like Doraemon or Pokemon started to appear a lot in the form of toys and equipments, notably the animated movies. Iwabuchi (2015) ensured that in 1980s, the Japanese media cultures started attract policy makers, globally adapted practices of soft power which is the ability to attract and co-op instead of coercing, and nation branding in order to extend the good image of Japan. This is the promotion of ‘pop-culture diplomacy’ or even known as ‘Cool Japan’.

However, it is argued that “pop-culture diplomacy goes no further than a one-way projection and does not seriously engage with cross-border dialogue” (Iwabuchi, 2015). Indeed, this paper is going to examine the effectiveness of Japanese Manga – Anime to other countries and contra in three dimensions: economic, society and politics.

Literature review

Pop-culture diplomacy in Japan: soft power, nation branding and the question of international cultural exchange”

The increase of Japanese pop-culture diplomacy does not completely do its initial objective as a tool of cultural exchange. There have been the understanding and interaction at the grassroots level through the Asian media and culture movements. For instance, a pedagogical design could help better promoting the knowledge about the historical issues and cultural diversity in each society. According to Holden (2013), recent trend of the cultural diplomacy is the impulse between reciprocal and collaborative engagement, highlighting the need to interact with internal publics as well as external audiences.

To enhance cross-border dialogue, cultural diplomacy is not only related to the raise of human exchange but also the development of ‘domestic cultural diplomacy’ that promote national people to have their own views rather than project the idea of itself. Focusing on the domestic cultural diplomacy could cause the problem on the constructions of the nations but the national interest should be expanded beyond the promotion of economic and political goals. Advancing the cultural exchange in the more open and dialogic would solve the international issues as complex cultural flows and historical international relation as well as the cultural diversity.

The Role of Anime and Manga in Indonesia-Japan Cultural Diplomacy

One of the vital part of diplomacy is to get known-well with each other and know the characteristics and customs of each nation. Cultural diplomacy has been easily socialized with the upsurge of media, fashion, comic or food, which is also known as pop-culture. Japan has successfully used their culture as a tool of diplomacy written as a part of Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 under the program called ‘Cool Japan’. Japanese Prime Minister Masahiko Koumura chose Doraemon as the Japanese anime ambassador in 2008 and Doraemon turned out to be the successful example of global creative industry. Komura hoped that the global community would see the positive side of Japan through the Japanese anime and the appearance of Doraemon would increase the perception of foreigners toward its culture, tradition, music and technology.

Besides that, to enhance the Japanese figure abroad. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) began to organize many programs for foreigners. Its purpose is to take the extensive attention of international people, introduce them the image of Japan as well as a trust and respect to Japanese government and society. They also gained another idea from the phenomenon of Japanese manga and anime by organizing the World Cosplay Summit since 2013 and the International Manga Award. With these activities, Japan has the deep relationship with many countries, notably Indonesia. Through festivals or the publishment of JKT48, we can see that the way Indonesian young people know Japan through pop culture, a very familiar means in their environment.


  • Manga – Anime are considered as an economic product.

Manga and Anime has been well-spread all over the world as a main economic products so the initial gain is the profit economically. According to Macdonald (2014), manga accounted for 40% comics that published in France in 2011. Blair (2017) indicated that the anime industry recorded $17.7 billion in 2016, increased by the hit of ‘Your Name’, exported and revenue from mobile game licensing. He also represented that Domestic box office with anime features was up 14 percent to $585 million, with nearly half of that accounted for by Makoto Shinkai ‘Your Name’. Total revenue from overseas sales, which includes broadcast rights, box office, DVD/Blu-ray sales and merchandising, jumped almost a third to $6.79 billion in 2016.

  • Pop culture can be used to invite foreigners to come to Japan as tourists who can advance the tourism industry.

According to Sabre & Clothilde (2017), media pilgrimage is a trip undertaken through the tourism imaginary from pop-culture, which are for fans to have concrete experiences. Japan has been introduced through manga, anime or video games and become the cultural context where contents happened. Because of that, Japan has become an important component to the contents that fans prefer. Therefore, once fans are in Japan, they would use their previous imaginary to compare and understand what they see and perceive in real life, which will give them a close feeling or the understanding of the concrete experiences.

To satisfy this experience, several Japanese tours organised by Autrement Le Japon has been released in France. In comparison with other travel agency, ALJ is quite rather unique since it is known as a manga tour. ALJ’s target is to provide the opportunity to the French people who prefer Japanese pop-culture to experience Japan in specific places. According to Japan National Tourism Organization (2016), the number of French tourists grew from 85,179 in 2003 to 214,228 in 2015, a steep upward trend only interrupted by the 2008 financial crisis and tsunami of March 2011. The important value here is the value of hardwork and creativity to create new products for economic purposes.


  • Pop culture’s purpose is to provide something interesting and an opportunity.

to explain about Japanese culture to people abroad. Through this means, it helps explaining about the common values of society, such as peace, brotherhood and friendship. For instance, the Japanese manga such as Doraemon, Naruto or One Piece has been an familiar image worldwide, especially young people. Notably, Kartikasari (2018) indicated that the Japanese Culture Festival mostly attracts to Indonesian people. Japan Foundation has helped JakJapan Festival a lot, which promote pop-culture as an attractive tool of the cultural diplomacy of Japan. It displays a numerous of Japanese cultures such as Bon Odori – a popular Japanese folk dance, yukata fashion or Japanese famous singers. Not only Indonesia but also other countries have held many Manga and Anime Events for fans to experience Japanese culture in their nations every year.

For example, the most well – known is Anime Festival Asia (AFA) in Singapore attracted 145000 total engaged audience in 2014. In USA, with slogan “Bringing fans and industry together for an annual celebration of Japanese pop culture”, Anime Expo is the largest anime con around, with over 100,000 fans in attendance, held every July in California, USA (Anime Expo official website). The event consists of music performance, contest, cosplay community, guests, exhibition,… which create the opportunity for visitors to know more about Japanese culture and Japan itself. Manga – Anime in specific and pop culture in general provides an opportunity to cooperate, collaborate with other cultures. It is also hoped that there will be mutual understanding among the countries involved.

The Effect of Pop Culture in General to Japanese Politics

The pop-culture is a culture-shaped media, where this culture is being taken advantage as a component of cultural diplomacy including soft power. Due to soft power, all national interests are propose to the international world without any violence such as war, which is known as the hard power. Understanding of the characterític and condition of Japan by taking a look to the cultural dimension is significantly important for the ease of establishing cooperation and friendship between overseas countries with Japan and extending the good side of Japan. For instance, Japan established their good relations with Indonesia when Japan started to carry out the cooperation in the cultural sector with a policy called the Doctrine of Fukuda.

Fukudaʼs doctrine was capable to rebuild the confidence of the countries in southeast Asia against Japan after the Malari incident in Indonesia that caused a bad image of Japan. Moreover, the Japanese popular culture has managed to steadily access and spread beyond nation- state boundaries in East Asia. Japanese popular culture products represent a group of highly appreciated products which effectively represent new images of Japan. These images help stimulating young East Asians to develop a new alternative view of contemporary aspects of Japanese culture and society by themselves.

Nevertheless, they do not generate ‘power’ in the traditional sense of authority or dominance. To prove that, a survey was carried out by the author among 239 undergraduate university students in Hong Kong (during June 2004), Bangkok (February 2005), and Seoul (April 2005), only 7 out of 120 interviewees in Hong Kong and Bangkok briefly mentioned the war and occupation period in describing their perceptions of Japan. Meanwhile, in the questionnaires in Seoul, there was a strong ambivalence toward Japan. In the multiple choice part of the questionnaires, 24 out of 119 interviewees in Seoul chose to define their attitude toward Japan as both ‘somehow negative’ and ‘somehow positive’.

One university student explained: ‘most of the Japanese people are kind but toward their government I am very negative…their policy toward Korea is very bad’. Another said that ‘I like Japanese culture and have Japanese friends but I hate their government!’ and her friend elaborated: ‘I like their fashion, music and movies, but sometimes they make me mad because of the way they treat history’. It would be said that young people have developed their own perception toward contemporary aspects of Japan. However, they still tend to accept the interpretation provided by the state regarding history, yet deny to see politics in their own appreciation of Japanese culture.

Effect of Japanese Pop-culture on Diplomacy essay

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Effect of Japanese Pop-culture on Diplomacy. (2021, Jul 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/effect-of-japanese-pop-culture-on-diplomacy/


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