Creative Industries Internationalization Committee
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Japanese government has appointed me as a member of the "Creative Industries Internationalization Committee" [クリエイティブ産業国際展開懇談会] (CIIC).
As a member, I will be representing the overseas audience to make sure that your recommendations or criticism is heard on the subject of how Japan could be doing better at bringing you their products, services or content.
This committee is a METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) initiative to financially support and implement any measures needed to strengthen the proliferation of Japanese culture and contents throughout the world.
The government selected committee members based on the wealth of their knowledge in the globalisation of their brands. Members of this committee are mostly Presidents of companies. The ones which you may be familiar with are:-
- Unozawa Shin (Bandai Namco Games President)
- Kitagawa Naoki (Sony Music Entertainment President)
- Noma Yoshinobu (Kodansha President)
- Hori Yoshitaka (Horipro President)
- Oonishi Hiroshi (Isetan President)
- Komoda Masanobu (Mitsui Fudousan President)
- Takeda Shinji (Tokyo Broadcasting System President)
- Danny Choo (Culture Japan Producer)
The full list of members was announced by METI on their website while the establishment of the Creative Industries Internationalization Committee was announced by the Minister of METI earlier in March.
While I have been working with the Japanese government on various projects for a few years now, I didn't expect to be asked to take on such an key role. As a committee member, apart from making your voice heard, one of the things I do is make recommendations on how Japan should allocate budget to various products, services or contents which not only helps promote Japanese culture but also leads to the industrialization of these contents overseas.
This is my appointment letter from the government that announces our first round table meeting which was held last week.
As METI announced, the round table was held last week at the Ministry where all the other governmental buildings are in Kasumigaseki.
First up is the usual exchange of business cards. This is the big boss of Bandai Namco games. I was very surprised that not only he, but all the other members already knew of my work ^^;
If you are looking for the perfect business card template to do business in Japan then here are some for free which I've been using these for years - trust me - they work wonders ^^;
Setting up my MacBook Air. I need to make a decent set of laptop stickers.
One of the most important talks I've given but only had 5 mins to cram everything in ^^;
My first slide featuring the "Hinomaru" card illustration from Moekana.
One thing I've learned from working in Japan for 14 years, ever since my time at Amazon, I realize that Japanese culture is to pack as much text as possible into a single slide.
I guess it depends on how you want to go about your presentation and there is no wrong and right but my suggestion would be to use slides only to visualize something that you are talking about - the point of giving a talk would be so that folks listen to what you say instead of read it from the slide which defeats the purpose of you talking. You may as well just attach it to a mail and ask folks to read it.
Many press were there to cover some of the round table but they had to go after we started to talk nitty gritty. You can see a recording of this news report over at Nippon TV.
The round table meeting about to start. Committee members on the left side, government officials on the right side.
The Chairperson moderates the whole session.
This is Motegi Toshimitsu - the new Minister of METI who gives an opening talk outlining the mission of the new committee.
I usually wear Culture Japan Apparel when I'm out n about but it didn't quite go well with the suit ^^;
Looks like I'll be wearing the suit quite a bit from now meaning that I need to start making Mirai pin badges ^^;
This is fashion journalist and comrade Ikoma Yoshiko. We have meetings from time to time to discuss some of the fashion related projects that I'm working on.
I was asked to share how I disseminate Japanese culture worldwide, how the Culture Japan brand is doing overseas and what areas of potential I see.
My job is outlined in my profile but is really outdated ><
I currently share Japanese culture with the world through a few mediums which are:-
- TV (Culture Japan TV) (Japan Mode)
- Events (Culture Japan Night)
- Web (this website)
- Products (Moekana, Moekanji etc)
- Character Development (Mirai Suenaga)
This slide covers some of the TV news shows around the world which I've been on.
This slide covers some of the newspapers and magazines worldwide which have featured my work.
Mirai-sensei appears from time to time to highlight points throughout the presentation. Some folks in Japan wonder whether Japanese culture really is so popular overseas - I can safely say through my work that the need for Japanese content continues to grow.
Where possible, I always try to involve my mascot character Mirai Suenaga in my work - so much so that if she's not involved then I dont seem to be motivated ^^;
Lately the amount of Mirai cosplayers around the world has been increasing - its truly humbling to see how much support she has ><
The Mirai Suenaga Touch and Go electronic payment card in Malaysia.
Many Japanese brands feel that they can make do with only the domestic market which is why they are not interested in the overseas market. My recommendation is that Japanese brands should consider becoming global brands too.
The "Cool Japan" initiative by the government focuses on pushing many aspects of Japanese culture around the world including anime, manga, food, fashion, design etc but one thing that is never mentioned is the Japanese Language.
I wanted to make Japanese learning more fun so that folks around the world could pick up the lingo much more easily and so developed the Moekana hiragana flash cards.
Moekana sold tens of thousands of packs worldwide and is followed with my new product Moekanji which teaches Japanese kanji.
One of the reasons why many Japanese brands have not been bothered with the globalisation of their goods, services or content is because of the perception that folks overseas only buy cheap stuff and where possible go for bootleg or pirated downloads. Documents that have been shared with the committee members also have figures which estimate the monetary loss based on piracy overseas.
I however believe that if Japanese products and content is made more readily available outside of Japan, more people will be willing to pay for original products or content that is made available in a timely manner - instead of being localised a year after it was broadcast in Japan.
No matter how small the contribution that go towards the Japanese content industry, it will help us to bring you more of what you love.
I do realize that the sharing of anime through torrents has contributed to the proliferation of anime culture across the world - which raises a question - what is the difference with me watching anime on TV for free here in Tokyo and you downloading it and watching it for free in your region?
An anime production committee would probably answer that they would not be able to sell the rights to a distributor in your region if you continued to download content for free. The thing is that I know the rate that some overseas distributors pay for an anime licence which can turn out to be as low as 300,000 yen for a season (13 episodes) of anime - depends on the title though.
At 300,000 yen, that is not even going to cover the cost of a months salary for an anime producer.
What do you think about all of this and do you have any insights that you want me to convey to the other members of the committee and the government?
I chose one example which not only highlights the fact that folks overseas are willing to pay a lot for Japanese products, but also shows that Japanese branded dolls have a huge potential market overseas.
Japanese branded dolls at the 60cm scale usually start to retail at about 60,000 yen and can go up to 250,000 yen (in some cases more) because they cant be easily obtained - they get flogged on Yahoo auction for ridiculous prices. But the thing is that people around the world are still willing to pay these prices because these dolls are darn cute!
I think figures are great but the figure that you buy and the one that I buy will be exactly the same. Dolls can be customised so that there is only 1 in the entire world.
Many of my peers in the Japanese anime and hobby industry agree that dolls are going to be big in the hobby world and it looks like there are going to be more makers making an entry into this industry.
I would love to contribute directly to globalising Japanese branded dolls but as you have read, my line of dolls called Mini Mirai has been put on hold for now until I can muster more cashflow. Oh wait, which part of that article was the April fools then? ^o^
I showed various photos of Japanese branded dolls taken around the world at Culture Japan Night which shows that the numbers of owners is on the increase.
One of my visions is that as you find retail stores selling clothes for humans in the high streets, in the not too distant future there will be more stores around the world dedicated to selling doll clothes and accessories too.
I only had 30 seconds left by now and finished off by mentioning that everything else that I wanted to cover is going to be in my book The Worldwide Otaku Report - due out in the next few months by Ascii Media Works (Toradora, Railgun, Oreimo). The slide you see here are 2 pages from the book dedicated to America representative Frances! There will be more than 1 US rep though as there were so many great quality entries.
President of Bandai Namco Games Unozawa Shin-san. One of the things that he talked about was the popularity of one of his games overseas - that wasn't even released abroad ^^;
He was not complaining though and was happy that folks around the world have been enjoying his company's titles.
I have a feeling that Mirai-chan will be collaborating with a few members in this room.
The boss of Sony Music Entertainment Kitagawa Naoki-san. He talked about the efforts they are making to bring more concerts to locations around the world.
The boss of Horipro - Hori Yoshitaka-san. He talks about the globalisation efforts they have been putting into participating in events such as Anime Festival Asia.
There is one more thing I want to add before I forget - I'm only here because I've continued to share my interests as an otaku and through that I've been able to connect with people around the world who share the same interests as I do.
A lot of people make efforts to hide the fact that they are an otaku and that they love anime, manga, figures, dolls or wot not - some even give up because of what others say and think.
I've previously talked about why it can be bad to live the life of others but I should also emphasise how important it is to share your passions on and offline which will enable you to connect to people around the world who share the same interests - this will lead to new found friendship and opportunities.
Just thought I would add however that one of the reasons I continue to do what I do is for my trolls. Directly attacking my trolls does not benefit my work in anyway and also means time taken away from focusing on my goals. The best way to retaliate against trolls is too continue share, achieve and live well.
After the round table I'm rushing back to base to finish a few more reports for METI but fill up on some Sukiya curry before I start.
The next round table is at the end of this month. If you want me raise any of your concerns or share feedback as a consumer of Japanese culture then lemme know in the comments below!
If you love Japanese anime, manga, games and wot not then this matters to you and I can tell you that the new government is being proactive at making changes. You can make a change too by letting me know what you think.
And this is how it all started - with my discovery of Japan while I was back in the UK...