Pop-culture diplomacy in Japan: soft power, nation branding and the question of 'international cultural exchange'

Koichi Iwabuchi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper critically examines the development of what is known as pop-culture diplomacy in Japan. In the postwar era, the country s cultural diplomacy was propelled by the necessity to soften anti-Japan perceptions, notably in Southeast Asia. In the late 1980s, the popularity of Japanese media culture in Asia began to attract the attention of policy makers, while subsequent globalized practices of soft power and nation branding gave greater emphasis to the use of media culture to internationally enhance the image of the nation, which has meant the promotion of pop-culture diplomacy and, more broadly, Cool Japan . It is argued that pop-culture diplomacy goes no further than a one-way projection and does not seriously engage with cross-border dialogue. The Japanese case also shows that pop-culture diplomacy hinders meaningful engagement with internal cultural diversity and suggests the necessity of taking domestic implications of cultural diplomacy seriously.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)419 - 432
    Number of pages14
    JournalThe International Journal of Cultural Policy
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Cite this