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12 février 2024

‘Cool Japan’—Concrete Policy or Illusion?

Japanese popular culture, in the form of anime, manga, and other cultural products, has become popular around the world. The Japanese government has made efforts to profit economically from this phenomenon by adopting the term ‘Cool Japan’. Cool Japan ‘policy’, however, has been patchy, disjointed and confusing. In this seminar Nobuko Kawashima will examine the background and emergence of the policy, its stated aims, its implemented programs and its gradual transformation since the early 2000s. This period corresponds with the changing political structure and administrative reform, whereby the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has come to assume a central role at the Cabinet Office in making cross-departmental policies, of which Cool Japan is one. However, despite the ambition of METI, Cool Japan lacked substance as a policy: clear aims, evidence of needs, concrete programs to address specific needs, and resources needed for implementation; hence, it is better understood as a campaign than as a policy.

  • 12 February 2024 | 12.00 - 13.00 (Paris time)
  • Speaker: Nobuko Kawashima (Doshisha University, FFJ Visiting researcher)
  • In English
  • At Campus Condorcet, EHESS building, Room A427 (4th floor): 2 cours des humanités 93300 Aubervilliers or online
  • Poster
  • Registration

7 mars 2024

From Abenomics to New Capitalism: Tracing the Origins of Economic Policy Ideas in Japan

To explain variations in policy outcomes, scholars in comparative political economy have focused on the institutional composition within Anglo-American and Western European liberal, statist and neo-corporatist regimes. In a recent addition to this literature, new analyses have focused on knowledge regimes as mechanisms through which ideas are produced and transmitted within political regimes. In particular, the role of think tanks and policy experts as mobile carriers of ideas has attracted attention. However, this literature has not taken into account the specific institutional arrangements of (post-)developmental states, where governments play a dominant role in policy-making. Therefore, in this presentation, Sebastian Maslow attempts to contribute to the literature that examines variation in policy outcomes and the role of political expertise by adding the developmental state to the set of political regime types. He will do this by focusing on Japan as a classic representation of the developmental state.

Governments in Japan have become increasingly interested in policy-relevant ideas on how to revitalize the national economy. This focus has created opportunities for policy entrepreneurs in academia and beyond to promote new economic policy programs. In this presentation, Sebastian Maslow focus on two programs, Abe Shinzo's post-2012 “Abenomics” and Kishida Fumio’s “new form of capitalism” introduced in 2021. Specifically, he asks whether advisors outside the formal government and/or ruling party apparatus contributed to the policy ideas that shaped Japanese economic policy. Sebastien Maslow argues that a change of government in Japan created a window of opportunity for policy entrepreneurs, including think tanks, to ideologically influence the development of a new signature economic policy in Japan. Moreover, he shows that think tanks are now playing a more prominent role in Japanese economic policymaking. He argues that this is the result of institutional changes in Japan, particularly since the collapse of the DPJ government in 2009, which highlighted the need for alternative sources of policy ideas to the dominant bureaucracy that provided expertise to LDP governments. In this sense, Sebastian Maslow suggest that Japan’s marketplace of economic policy ideas has become more competitive.

  • 7 March 2024 | 10.00-12.00 (Paris time)
  • Online and onsite at EHESS building : 2 cours des humanités 93300 Aubervilliers, room A427
  • Speaker: Sebastian Maslow (Sendai Shirayuri Women's College, Social Science Japan Journal)
  • In English
  • Poster