‘Cool Japan’ and Creative Industries: An Evaluation of Economic Policies for Popular Culture Industries in Japan

  • Nobuko KawashimaEmail author
Part of the Creative Economy book series (CRE)


‘Cool Japan’ has been a cross-departmental policy agenda for Japanese government that has gained prominence over the last 10 years or so. Although the government has been reticent about cultural policy in general and particularly to East and Southeast Asia in post-war decades, attention has recently been given to the international popularity of Japanese popular culture such as manga and anime with policies aiming to cash in on what is named ‘Cool Japan’ phenomenon. Policy has been, however, patchy and disjointed. This paper will examine the background and emergence of this policy with industrial and economic aims, its recent transformation and impact on cultural flows in Asia. It will argue that whilst the government’s policy for popular culture industries may not have led to significant results, it has done what it could legitimately do without riding on the bandwagon of the creative industries discourse that has swept across the rest of the world. The chapter will also stress the importance of the industries to broaden their regional perspectives.


Cultural policy Japan Cool Japan Creative industries Pop culture 


  1. ACA. (2016). Shogaikoku no bunkayosan ni kansuru chousa houkokusho (Report on public expenditure on culture), written by Platform for Arts and Culture, available from ACA. Accessed 18 June 2018.
  2. Allison, A. (2008). Attractions of the J-Wave for American youth. In Y. Watanabe & D. McConnell (Eds.), Soft power superpowers. M.E. Sharpe: Armonk, NY.Google Scholar
  3. Aronczyk, M. (2013). Branding the nation: The global business of national identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Association of Japanese Animations (AJA). (2015). Anime sangyo report 2015, summary. Tokyo: AJA (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  5. Association of Japanese Animations (AJA). (2016). Anime sangyo report 2016, summary. Tokyo: AJA (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  6. Banks, M., & O’Connor, J. (2009). After the creative industries. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 15(4), 365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bestor, T. C. (2000, November/December). How Sushi went global. Foreign Policy, 54–63.Google Scholar
  8. Brienza, C. (2014). Did manga conquer America? Implications for the cultural policy of ‘Cool Japan’. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 20(4), 383–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cabinet Office. (2004). Keizai-zaisei Unei to Kozo Kaikaku ni kansuru Kihon Hoshin [Principles and strategies regarding economic and fiscal management and structural reform]. Tokyo: Cabinet Office (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  10. Cabinet Office. (2015). Kontentsu kaigai tenkai wo meguru kadai to kento no Houkousei [Issues and directions of considerations for global export of content]. Accessed 13 Oct 2016.
  11. Cool Japan Advisory Council. (2011). Atarashii Nihon no Sozo [Creating a new Japan]. In Japanese. Available online from the website of METI. Accessed 13 Mar 2016.
  12. Cool Japan Fund. (2015). Investing in a media localization service to accelerate the distribution of Japanese content overseas, Press Release, Cool Japan Fund Inc. 19 February 2015.Google Scholar
  13. Cool Japan Movement Promotion Council. (2014). Cool Japan proposal. Available online from the website of Cabinet Secretariat. Accessed 13 Mar 2016.
  14. Cunningham, S. (2009). Trojan hourse or Rorschach blot? Creative industries discourse around the world. International journal of cultural policy, 15(4), 375–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Daliot-Bul, M. (2009). Japan brand strategy: The taming of ‘Cool Japan’ and the challenges of cultural planning in a postmodern age. Social Science Japan journal, 12(2), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Daliot-Bul, M. (2014). Reframing and reconsidering the cultural innovations of the anime boom on US television. International journal of cultural studies, 17(1), 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Galloway, S., & Dunlop, S. (2007). A critique of definitions of the cultural and creative industries in public policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 13(1), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Iwabuchi, K. (Ed.). (2004). Feeling Asian modernities: Transnational consumption of Japanese TV dramas. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Iwabuchi, K. (2015). Pop-culture diplomacy in Japan: Soft power, nation branding and the question of ‘international cultural exchange’. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 21(4), 419–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kaifu, M. (2010). Amerika ni okeru nihon no kontentsu shijo [The content industry in the US market]. Hitotsubashi Business Review, 58(3), 6–21 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  21. Kaifu, M. (2014). Amerika (On America). In Digital Contents Association of Japan (Ed.), Dejitaru kontentsu hakusho 2014 [White paper on the content industry in Japan 2014]. Tokyo: DCAJ (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  22. Kawashima, N. (2014). The film industry in Japan—Prospering without active support from the state? In H.-K. Lee & L. Lim (Eds.), Cultural policies in East Asia (pp. 210–226). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  23. Kawashima N (2015) Cultural policies in East Asia. In: Wright JD (ed) International encyclopedia in social and behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Oxford: ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  24. Kawashima, N. (2016). Film policy in Japan—An isolated species on the verge of extinction? International Journal of Cultural Policy, 22(5), 787–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kawashima, N. (forthcoming). Production consortium system in Japanese film financing. In L. Lim & H.-K. Lee (Eds.), Routledge handbook of cultural and creative industries in Asia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Kokusai Koryu Kenkyukai [Research Council on International Cultural Relations]. (2003). Aratana jidai no gaiko to kokusai koryu no aratana yakuwari [Foreign relations in a new era and a new role for cultural relations]. Tokyo: Japan Foundation (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  27. Kong, L., Gibson, C., Khoo, L.-M., & Semple, A.-L. (2006). Knowledges of the creative economy: Towards a relational geography of diffusion and adaptation in Asia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 47(2), 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kwon, S.-H., & Kim, J. (2014). The cultural industry policies of the Korean government and the Korean wave. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 20(4), 422–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, R. (2005). Kankoku ni okeru terebi bangumi no yushutsu seisaku nitsuite [Changes in TV program trade]. Komyunike-shon kenkyu [Communication Studies], 35, 71–89 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  30. Lee, H.-K. (2009). Between fan culture and copyright infringement: Manga scanlation. Media, Culture & Society, 31(6), 1011–1022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lee, M. (2010). Kankoku seifu ni yoru tai tounan ajia Kanryu shinko seisaku [Hallyu promotion policies of the South Korean government towards Southeast Asia]. Tonan Ajia Kenkyuu [Southeast Asian Studies], 48(3), 265–293 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  32. Lee, H.-K. (2014). Politics of the ‘creative industries’ discourse and its variants. International journal of cultural policy, 22(3), 438–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Leonard, S. (2005). Progress against the law: Anime and fandom, with the key to the globalization of culture. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(3), 281–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McGray, D. (2002). Japan’s gross national cool. Foreign Policy, 130, 44–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. METI. (2003). Keizai sangyo sho nenpo [Annual report of METI]. Tokyo: METI (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  36. METI. (2004). Shinsangyo Sozo Senryaku [Strategy of creating new industries]. Tokyo: METI (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  37. METI. (2007). Contents global strategy—Final report. Tokyo: METI (English translation).Google Scholar
  38. METI. (2011). Keizai sangyo sho nenpo [Annual report of METI]. Tokyo: METI (In Japanese).Google Scholar
  39. METI. (2014). Ku-ru japan senryaku ni tsuite (On Cool Japan Policy). METI, (in Japanese), Accessed 27 May 2016.
  40. MIC. (2013). Jyoho Tsushin Hakusho [White paper 2013]. Tokyo: MIC (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  41. Mihara, R. (2014). Ku-ru japan ha naze kirawarerunoka [Why is Cool Japan unpopular?]. Tokyo: Chuokoron-Shinsho Inc (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  42. Miinistry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). (2015). White paper 2015. Tokyo: MIC (English Version).Google Scholar
  43. Nakano, Y. (2008). Shared memories: Japanese pop culture in China. In Y. Watanabe & D. McConnell (Eds.), Soft power superpowers (pp. 111–127). Armonk: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  44. Nye, J., Jr. (2004). Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  45. Otmazgin, N. (2011). A tail that wags the gog? Cultural industry and cultural policy in Japan and South Korea. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 13(3), 307–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Otmazgin, N. K. (2012). Geopolitics and soft power: Japan’s cultural policy and cultural diplomacy in Asia. Asia-Pacific Review, 19(1), 37–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Otmazgin, N. (2014). A regional gateway: Japanese popular culture in Hong Kong, 1990–2005. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 15(2), 323–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Potts, J. (2009). Introduction: Creative industries and innovation policy. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 11, 138–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pratt, A. C. (2009). Policy transfer and the field of the cultural and creative industries: What can be learned from Europe? In L. Kong & J. O’Connor (Eds.), Creative economies, creative cities. Asian-European perspectives (pp. 9–23). Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sakamoto, R., & Allen, M. (2011). There’s something fishy about that sushi: How Japan interprets the global sushi boom. Japan forum, 23(1), 99–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wijingaarden, Y., Hitters, E., & Bhansing, P. V. (2016). ‘Innovation is a dirty word’: Contesting innovation in the creative industries. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 23, 1–14, iFirst article.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsDoshisha UniversityKyotoJapan

Personalised recommendations