Monday, July 06, 2009

Japan symbols conveyors: from skilled bureaucrats to cuties

The Kimono dressed lady on Kyoto Kamogawa river bank, a Japan symbolic promotion icon soon to evaporate? Not too fast, Japan psyche inclusive of esthetes tastes and attraction for power, as seen in struggles between policy makers - politicians - tycoons, has a name: "JB", the "Japanese Bureaucracy".

Here are the winners... Yasushi Akashi, Sadako Ogata , Koichiro Matsuura, and today Yukiya Amano, next chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency. These Japanese VIPs are some among famous names in the world diplomatic arena. Even mores surprising, the "Japanese cuties" play a role to promote Tokyo, added to the influential JP people network! Mission? Very possible: Convey Japan's view to the outsiders and convince them. I think I even heard a famous politician and former bureaucrat saying once: "Brainwash them." Now now...

Is Japan updating symbols of a traditional Japan (kimono, Fuji and cherry trees) to seduce by charm or by technological creature "Honda Asimo" promoted by ex Prime Minister Koizumi to his European counterparts?

The Korean Donga Ilbo has this interesting report on How Japanese civil servants - diplomats get appointed to strategic posts. It means how Japan navigates to pass the message from old values to updated concerns. 1 main reason of the JP extensive web on the world stage: a large "network, funding and capabilities."

Indeed. Japan’s economic power is capable of creating a wide human network on the global stage with a ministry, the Gaimusho, whose budget is seven billion U.S. dollars and has 2,200 officials in Japan and 3,300 abroad.

Therefore, with a large number of overseas personnel, Japan develops a quite efficient diplomatic system for a diplomacy backed by personnel, funds and back-up plans. "To take the top post at the world’s top nuclear watchdog this year, when the agency held its election for director-general, Tokyo allocated 16 billion yen (167 million dollars) for projects on arms control, nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear power."

And sometimes, Japan assigns "Lolita-esque fashion models boasting girlish tastes", (JT June 16th quotes) such as the recent 3 "ambassadors of cute" appointed by the Foreign Ministry who have started traveling abroad to introduce Japanese "pop culture" to young people overseas. Even if some people have been raising eyebrows over the use of "kawaii" as the culture campaign's latest buzzword such as Parliament Member Kaori Maruya, a Diet member from New Komeito.

Get the know-how, here is the Donga Ilbo report:
Not as prominent as the "Enigma of Japanese Power", worked out by our senior colleague Karen van Wolferen, thanks to ministries frivolities and rivalries. But good pointers.