U.S. uses its militarism to spread influence while Japan and Russia use their respective cultures

Like Russia, Japan is exploiting its culture spreading its influence around the world using it as a political tool and seems to be working fairly well. So while the U.S. spreads it “culture” in the form of aggressive militarism, Japan and Russia seem to being doing it through peaceful means using its culture to develop relations with other countries.

Source: Business Insider

Japan has turned its culture into a powerful political tool

by Taku Tamaki
April 30, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a media briefing following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin Russian President Putin shakes hands with Japanese PM Abe during media briefing following their meeting at Kremlin in Moscow. Thomson Reuters

Much has been made of Japan’s recent turn away from pacifism and growing military muscle, but Tokyo is also extending its global reach in more subtle ways. Japan is especially serious about increasing its soft power, the ability to win over global partners with cultural and diplomatic affinity rather than coercion and sheer heft.

Tokyo has long busied itself building a national “brand”, an image that combines the supposed uniqueness of Japanese language, cuisine, and traditional hospitality with its postwar pacifism and reputation for technological prowess.

The latest iteration of this project is the Cool Japan initiative, which capitalises on the international popularity of manga and anime to project the Japanese brand around the world.

But while this might all sound like very 21st-century stuff, the idea of packaging national culture into a political brand is a familiar one, and Japan has been doing it for decades – albeit in very different ways.

Before World War II, imperial Japan presented itself as the “liberator” of Asia, the only modernised Asian state to have escaped Western colonialism. This myth already contained the core elements of Cool Japan, depicting Japan as neither Asian nor Western but an exotic hybrid of Western modernity and Asian tradition. This deft act of national branding won it the 1940 Olympics – but as the country’s expansionist offensives in Asia ramped up in the late 1930s, the games were abandoned.

Yet remarkably, this myth of Japanese cultural uniqueness survived the devastating and humiliating defeat of August 1945. On the contrary, it was reinforced by Japan’s postwar pacifism and rapid reconstruction that began in the mid-1950s. Over the next few decades, Japan became the second-largest economy in the world, once again suggesting that it was a trailblazing standout in an otherwise backward Asia.

That approach paid off with the successful bid for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which this time actually happened.

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