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Nissim Otmazgin - From Colonial Power to Soft Power: 100 years of Japanese Cultural Diplomacy in Asia

During most of the post-war period, the Japanese government did very little to support the export of its culture to the rest of Asia and at times even objected to it. This was due to fears that such an export might resurrect old grievances from the time Japan occupied large parts of this region and attempted to impose its own culture on its neighbors, but also due to the lack of government interest in “culture” being a profitable export commodity. However, following the success of Japan’s popular culture abroad since the mid-1980s and its enthusiastic acceptance by youth throughout Asia, the government has become increasingly inter-ested in the economic advantages of popular culture as a way of upgrading the economy, as well as its diplomatic advantages of boosting the country’s image abroad and attaining “soft power.”

In this talk I will examine Japan’s cultural diplomacy in Asia over three main periods: before and during the Pacific War, in the post-war period, and since the mid-1980s. Looking at the fluctuations in Japan’s cultural diplomacy over these periods allows us to understand how Japan has used culture to further its geopolitical goals and more basically how it has viewed the role of “culture” in the context of its relations and position within Asia.

Nissim Otmazgin is a professor of Japanese studies at the Department of Asian Studies and the Head of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research interests include Japan-Southeast Asian relations, Japanese and Korean media industries, and popular culture and regionaliza-tion in East and Southeast Asia and he has conducted extensive fieldwork in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shang-hai, Bangkok, and Seoul. He is the author of Regionalizing Culture: The Political Economy of Japanese Popular Culture in Asia (University of Hawaii Press, 2013), and (together with Miki Daliot-Bul) The Anime Boom in the US: Lessons for Global Creative Industries (Harvard Asia Center, forthcoming). His articles appeared in International Relations of the Asia Pacific, Pacific Affairs, Cross-Currents, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific Review, Media, Culture & Society, Journal of Compara-tive Policy Analysis, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and Contemporary Japan.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften – Japanologie, Seminarraum 1

UNI Campus

Spitalgasse 2/2.4, 1090 Wien

T: 01 - 4277 43801

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften
Universität Wien
Spitalgasse 2 - Hof 2
1090 Wien
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