Sunday, October 5

Soft Power Discussion no 3

An old article from CNN, talking about Japan's soft power; a sort of continuation from previous entry.

'Soft power' part of balancing act

By Geoff Hiscock

(CNN) -- Soft power, or the art of influencing people to like you, is a growing part of Japan's perennial balancing act with the world.

For a taste of Japan's soft power, look no further than "Gedo Senki" (Tales from Earthsea), the blockbuster animated movie that has just knocked "Superman Returns" from the No. 1 spot in the Tokyo box office stakes.

The Earthsea stories come from the pen of American fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin, but it is Japan's anime (animation) world that has most fervently embraced her characters.

Anime and its print sister manga (comics) are part of Japan's huge otaku (think fan or nerd) culture that is fixated on fantasy, robots, dolls, swap cards, video games, role playing, costumes and other such accoutrements.

And while geekdom in Japan is a big business, it is even bigger globally, with scores of anime and gaming-related conventions tracked by international sites such as

In September alone, for example, fans can attend Dragon-Con in Atlanta, Animania in Sydney, Australia, Fumettopoli in Milan, Italy and Connichi in Kassel, Germany.

The otaku world is but one of the many projections of cool Japan. From fashion to food to film and a dozen other cultural avenues, Japan is a global player.

Fashion designer Nigo, architect Tadao Ando, novelist Haruki Murakami, baseball star Ichiro Suzuki, footballer Hidetoshi Nakata and actor/singer Takeshi Kaneshiro are just some of the skilled exports who provide a "soft power" counterpoint to Japan's underwhelming performance in the international political arena.

Full article is here

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