Soft power is “the ability of a nation to attract other nations to one’s side, to win the trust of international society, and gain a greater voice not through coercion but through obtaining understanding, appreciation and support for one’s own culture and values, without depending on military and economic power.” In today’s international society, while hard power, such as military force, continues to play an important role, the importance of soft power has been increasing as a result of the spread of information and democratization, and the expansion of players other than governments.
1. [The Power of Culture] Showcase and Promote Japan’s Traditional Culture!
Japanese cultural resources include many tangible and intangible ancient and traditional cultures, such as traditional arts (tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Kabuki), crafts (lacquerware, porcelain and chinaware), the culture of the Japanese kimono, and, furthermore, traditional Japanese values and etiquette. It is necessary for every Japanese person to experience and understand these elements of Japanese traditional culture and serve as an “ambassador” able to demonstrate or showcase the culture. The Japanese government should more actively introduce Japan’s traditional culture at official events, major events organized by the private sector, and other international exchange settings in order to present these cultural assets to the world and increase their popularity.
At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in 2015, Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and Hakubun Shimomura, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, agreed to jointly hold World Forum on Sports and Culture in the fall of 2016 in Japan immediately after the Rio Olympics. In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics will be held. It is expected that every opportunity possible will be taken to inherit and showcase Japanese culture and traditional events. (Action 53)
2. [The Power of Education] Promote the Plan for 300,000 Exchange Students!
Foreign students studying in Japan play a significant and important diplomatic soft power role in terms of forming a pro-Japanese intellectual class in their mother countries and enhancing the profile of Japan overseas. The Japanese government aims to increase the number of foreign students studying in Japan to a total of 300,000 by 2020 under the “Plan for 300,000 Exchange Students.” This plan should be further promoted as a national strategy. (Action 50)
3. [The Power of Education] Promote the Global Spread of the Japanese Language, Culture and Education Sectors!
In the world, a “war of culture and language” is being waged to spread the language and culture of each combatant’s own country. For example, in China, the Confucius Institute has been established in many countries as a means to spread Chinese culture and language. In Japan, there are already educational institutions that meet global standards and that we can proud of. Kumon, for example, has been highly appreciated for its unique educational methodology in many countries. Currently, Kumon offers classes in 45 countries and regions around the world and teaches about 4.4 million children. The Suzuki Method is another educational method, one that uses music to foster human development. About 400,000 children are learning with this method at present in 46 countries in the world. It is hoped that an increasing number of Japanese educational institutions will successfully pursue a global presence in various fields. It is also hoped that an “All-Japan Team” consisting of government, industry and academia will work together to support these efforts.
4. [The Power of Tourism] Emphasize Collective Efforts to Increase the Number of Foreigners Visiting Japan!
The Visit Japan Campaign aims to ultimately increase the annual number of overseas travelers visiting Japan to 30 million people. As the first stage, a goal was set to increase foreign visitors to 15 million by 2013. In 2014, however, the number only reached 13,410,000.
Japan’s greatest tourism asset is the Japanese culture of hospitality. In addition, there are many exploitable forms of tourism in Japan, such as eco-tourism, green tourism, other forms of nature tourism (including hot springs), cultural tourism, industrial tourism, medical tourism and sports tourism (such as skiing). As long as we use the right method, we can attract many overseas visitors. (Action 62)