Why Is Soft Power Important to Japan?

Why Is Soft Power Important to Japan?

Japanese animes have strengthened japan’s economy and international relationship

By: Maha Altamim

Japan is a country that has a unique culture that is distinct from any other country. However, Japan nowadays is well-known for its worldwide loved “Anime, which is derived from the English word “Animation” and “Manga” which are graphic comics.

Besides the entertainment aspect of Anime and Manga, according to American political scientist Joseph Nye, Japan’s anime industry is often compared to the “soft power” form of diplomacy. “ Soft power is the ability to attract co-opt rather than coerce (contrast hard power). In other words, soft power involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.” Wiki

After the Cold War, the abandonment of hard power was an obligation, so the country has focused on soft power and pursued policies that are geared toward developing cultural and economic development. In this context, the globalization wave in the 1990s gave Japan new opportunities to develop its diplomacy through popular culture, especially anime and manga.

Aso Taro, the Minister of Finance for Japan, has suggested the government promote Japan’s traditional and popular culture as a form of strengthening its ties with nearby countries and its international trading partners. This strategy has enhanced its image in these regions, resulting in a positive impact on the anime film industry. In 2006, the total sales of anime DVDs and films amounted to over five billion US dollars of the industry’s revenues.

Apart from direct sales, the increasing popularity of anime outside Japan has generated a halo effect on Japanese products in the global market; such as clothing, toys, video games, and watches. Moreover, with the increasing number of tourists wanting to know more about Japanese culture, Japan is slowly becoming a tourist destination once again considering it has been hit hard by the pandemic. 

“Soft Power is still a power that cannot and should not be ignored.” Said Joseph Nye.

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