I am often asked, “Why can’t Japanese entertainment go global?”
I may not have the capacity to answer, but I gave it some thought.
Japan too has excellent entertainment content.
Many comics have been made into Hollywood movies. There is also anime, which has been exported to Europe since the 80s.
There are Toho special effects films such as Godzilla and Toei’s ninkyo (“chivalry”) series, which are loved by Tarantino.
The problem is that, with a producer-side marketing approach, this great content has not reached Hollywood or the world.
In the 21st century, this strategy of steadily making great content in the hopes that the world will understand is a naive one. It is important to, like South Korea, have a strategy that works with the world and the generations.
One reason we cannot achieve this despite knowing it is the case is that those involved in Japan seem to have a mentality of not wanting to leave Japan. Japan is a strange country where, despite having the world’s strongest passport, many of its citizens have never boarded an airplane. Inbound is valued over outbound. These past few years the focus has been on “please visit us,” but that was not the result of good marketing; it was because things were cheap due to deflation. Japan is just a country where Yohji Yamamoto clothes can be bought at half their price in Beijing.
What, then, should a Japan that has again fallen into isolation with COVID-19 do?
The only neighboring country is China. Sell Japanese entertainment to China. Although there has been a lack of relations since “Oshin,” Gen Z in China thinks that South Korean content is “cool.” However, this was the result of South Korea studying Japan’s “cool.” China’s Gen Z is not aware of these roots.
I think that, depending on their way of doing things, Japanese idols can make it too.
In fact, the Chinese think similarly to Americans. They are self-assertive and continental.
Therefore, a Japan that is recognized in Japan can then spread to Hollywood and Broadway.
Japan should follow a “One Belt, One Road” strategy of landing in the United States by way of China.
This may become the framework of Japanese entertainment’s global strategy.
* The photo is from the XAVIER VEILHAN exhibition currently being held at Perrotin (Roppongi).