Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pop Culture Diplomacy?

Lucas drew my attention to this recent commentary on Japan :

The take home message seems to be:

"The entire fabric of the economy needs an overhaul. At the moment, though, Japanese voters are getting gimmicks like “ambassadors of cute” in schoolgirl outfits and polka dots."

"The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is quite enterprising when it comes to avoiding painful and sweeping structural changes. Instead, it comes up with a bewildering array of policy bandages -- many of which are little more than gimmickry."

I dont understand how selling this image, or even these products can help the Japanese economy. No doubt there is a domestic market for these products, but can this stuff sell abroad? Sure there are some Japanophiles in every country who watch the cartoons, read the comic books, and buy the stupid-cute stuff, but this is not like selling Toyotas and other gadgets. Can you name a Japanese cartoon? Do you know what the "Harajuku style" is? Probably not. Do you know what a Corolla or Prius is? Did you own a Sony walkman or have a Japanese brand flatscreen TV? Even if the traditional Japanese exports are tanking, selling this younger-wierder-cartoonydreamy subculture will not lead to anything.