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Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:33 03/09/2007
Comment (September 13, 2004)

Rejoinder to Mr. Condry's Comment on Japan's Soft Power

Toyoo GYOHTEN (President, Institute of International Monetary Affairs)

I appreciate Mr. Ian Condry's comment on my article, "Japan's Soft Power Reconsidered" (, because I feel that we need an active discussion on the definition and the role of soft power in the context of international relations.

I must point out, however, that Mr. Condry clearly misunderstood my argument by quoting part of my key sentence, "the government should protect and promote the nation's cultural assets and heritage," and interpreting this as "the government should protect intellectual property." To avoid such a misunderstanding he should have quoted the entire original sentence, which is, "rather than publicly supporting creators directly, the government should protect and promote the nation's cultural assets and heritage, just as French language is supported in France." The entire sentence shows that what I proposed was not to strengthen intellectual property rights, but rather to promote the use of cultural assets. I understand that this is exactly what Mr. Condry is emphasizing by saying that the spread of cultural influence depends on encouraging its "flow," rather than protecting the culture itself. So I do not see much difference between his opinion and mine.

What I do disagree with is his justification of "piracy" in the form of online file sharing of music and animation, even though it might appear to encourage such cultural activities among young people. I think he has gone too far when he writes that "copyright can protect the past, but it can't create the future." I believe that copyright can be a strong incentive as well as a supporting mechanism for creative activities, if it is properly protected.

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