"Japan's Elusive Soft Power: Re-examining the Debate on Culture and Foreign Policy in Postwar Japan"

Dr Alexander Bukh, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Science, Tsukuba University

24.Nov.2010 17.15 - 18.30
ICOSS Centre, University of Sheffield - Sheffield
Since early 2000s, the notion of "soft power" has become one of the new buzz words in Japan's public discourse. Most of the current scholarship on the issue has been devoted to examining the popularity of Japan's popular culture. The indisputable worldwide popularity of Japan's pop culture, however, can be contrasted with Japan's diplomacy which has been lacking grand strategy and can hardly be viewed as successfully affecting the minds and hearts of the targeted audiences. This talk will attempt to trace the roots of this discrepancy by examining the development of the discourse on culture in postwar Japan. It will argue that the relative weakness of Japan's soft-power can be at least partially attributed to the failure to produce a consistent definition of what political values does Japan's culture stand for.