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Home > Special Topics > Activity Report Last Updated: 15:10 03/09/2007
Activity Report #23: November 4, 2003

Takahiro Miyao's Radio Institute of Global Communications: No. 1, November 2, 2003

Takahiro MIYAO (Professor, GLOCOM)

Partial transcript and translation from Prof. Miyao's Radio Program, posted here with permission of Radio Tampa/Radio Nikkei

Takahiro Miyao's Radio Institute of Global Communications: No. 1
Radio Tampa (Short Wave 501); SKY Perfect TV (501 Channel)
Broadcast time:November 2 (Sunday) 18:10-18:40
Recording place:Recorded in Radio Tampa's Studio
Program:1. Introduction
2. Virtual Discussion
3. Trend Research
Audio:Radio Program  (Windows Media Player)
(Mainly in Japanese but some parts in English)
Asia Station Web site (in Japanese)


My name is Takahiro Miyao, and I am now working on a project to facilitate global communications at a research institute, GLOCOM, that is the Center for Global Communications, which is affiliated with the International University of Japan. Based on my project at GLOCOM, I will take up various issues on today's Japan in politics, economics, technology, society, culture and other fields on this program. I will explain Japan's representative views as well as my own views in order to generate discussions on various issues.

I was born and raised in Japan, and graduated from a university in Tokyo, but then went to the United States for my graduate study. After getting my Ph.D. in Economics, I decided to stay in North America and spent about 15 years teaching at various universities in Canada and the United States before returning to Japan. Since coming back to Japan, I have been trying to promote global communications by going back and forth between Japan and the United States and later by visiting such Asian countries as Korea, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. But more recently I have been focusing on communications through various media, such as radio, TV, and the Internet, so that I can reach a wider audience.

At my institute, GLOCOM, I am in charge of managing and maintaining a website, called the GLOCOM Platform, where Japanese opinion leaders' views are posted in English and various discussions and reports are also posted. You can see the GLOCOM Platform at http://www.glocom.org/.

Virtual Discussion

(1) Identity and East Asia
In this virtual discussion corner, I will take up a couple of issues, mainly in politics and economics, which are being taken up on the GLOCOM Platform. Currently, the main opinion paper posted on the GLOCOM Platform is about "identity in East Asia," written by Tokyo University Professor Takashi Inoguchi, who did a survey study about national identity among Japanese, Korean and Chinese. They are asked whether they think of themselves as Japanese, Korean or Chinese. Among the Japanese who were surveyed, only two thirds said they think of themselves as Japanese, but one third said they don't care or they have never thought about it. In contrast, Koreans showed a more nationalistic response. Almost all Koreans said they think of themselves as Koreans, and a similar nationalistic response was shown by Chinese. In a sense, this is not very surprising.

But Professor Inoguchi has found something interesting. He also asked if people think of themselves as Asian, a broader regional identity, and he has found that Koreans are distinctly different from Japanese and Chinese in this regard. Almost all Koreans think of themselves as Asian, whereas relatively few Japanese and Chinese think of themselves as Asian. So in summary, Japanese are weak in identifying themselves with Japan or Asia, while Koreans are just the opposite with strong identification with Korea and Asia. But Chinese are interesting in that Chinese has strong national identity as Chinese but rather weak identity with Asia. Why is this? Professor Inoguchi says that Chinese tend to have a view that China is contrasted to the rest of Asia and the Chinese people identify themselves with China but not with Asia. One might agree or disagree. In any case, this study shows that it would be wrong to assume that people in Asia share the same sense of identity as Asian, and we need to understand each other's differences and try to avoid misunderstandings about others' identify.

In my view, this kind of identity depends on generations. While it is interesting to obtain such mixed results as in Prof. Inoguchi's survey, it could be the case that Asia's younger generation, say, in their teens and twenties, might well have stronger identity as Asians than older generations. You can easily see that by talking to young people in Asia, whether they are Japanese, Korean, or Chinese.

(2) Manifesto in Japanese Politics
Now turning to Japanese politics as the second issue today, the key word in the current election campaign is "manifesto," which means political party's pledges or promises with numerical targets and clear deadlines for their realization, if that party becomes a ruling party after the elections. For example, the LDP promises 2 percent economic growth by fiscal year 2006 and privatization of Japan Highway Public Corporation among other things, while the Democratic Party of Japan pledges to reduce unemployment to less than 4 percent within the next 4 years, as well as the abolition of highway tolls within the next three years.

As Fuji Xerox Chairman Yotaro Kobayashi says in his opinion paper entitled "Will Manifestos Change Japanese Politics?" that the concept of a manifesto as a political tool originates in Great Britain, and the main purpose of introducing manifestos is to make elections more policy oriented, and thus giving power to politicians and not to bureaucrats as in the past. So, Chairman Kobayashi appreciates the introduction of manifesto in Japan's politics and says that the key to make manifestos work in politics is to establish an effective review process of policies.

As an economist, I have a more critical view on this manifesto boom, so to speak. Especially about economic policy measures promised in various parties' manifestos, there is no consistency among those measures and objectives. For example, the LDP and the DPJ are promising higher economic growth and lower employment, but are also pushing the idea of cutting public spending and subsidies which would have a depressing impact on the economy. So, the means and ends don't look consistent with each other. In that case, just promises would be quite misleading and doing no good. If that is unavoidable, then I would agree to Chairman Kobayashi that at least an effective review process should be established to correct the misleading tendencies.

Trend Research

In this corner, I would like to take up soft or softer topics such as Japan's pop culture like animation, games, pop music, design, etc., in a series. In fact, Japan is attracting more attention these days not because of its economic achievement, but rather because of recent developments in Japanese pop culture such as the well known animation movie, Spirited Away. Of course, Pokemon has been a worldwide hit among children and young people. Japanese popular songs can be heard in any Asian country these days.

Actually a new word has been coined to express this new phenomenon, that is, Japanese Cool or Japan's Gross National Cool. Here, of course, cool means something looking good or sounding good or great, mostly used in the pop culture context. This word, Gross National Cool was first used by an American journalist, Douglas McGray in his celebrated report in the Foreign Policy magazine in 2001.

It has been estimated that the market size of Japan's content industry including books, movies, games, CDs, etc. now amounts to approximately US$100 billion, which is comparable to Japan's leading industries such as automobile and consumer electronics. The character market such as Pokemon and Hello Kitty characters is now close to US$30 billion in size. These figures alone imply the importance of cultural content in the Japanese economy and society.

I am going to take up this exciting topic in a series in this corner and plan to interview specialists in this area.

Closing Remarks

I hope you enjoyed today's program. I will take up more interesting articles from our GLOCOM Platform, and you might prepare yourself by printing out Japanese summaries (http://www.glocom.org/indexj.html) and newsletters (http://www.glocom.org/newsletters/) to help you understand my talk more fully. My next program will be on the first Sunday in December. I will see you then.

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