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Seminar on Japan’s Soft Power and ASEAN-Japan Relations


22 November 2017 – Japan’s efforts at projecting its “soft power” in Southeast Asia has reaped rewards in economic terms as well as in sowing goodwill between Japan and ASEAN, but more can be done to ensure accessibility of Japanese content to Southeast Asian audiences. This was the overarching message from the seminar on “Japan’s Soft Power and ASEAN-Japan Relations”, which was organised by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute on 22 November 2017.

From Left to Right: Prof. Kitti Prasirtsuk, Prof. Yoshihide Soeya, and Prof. Ken Jimbo. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Chaired by Prof. Yoshihide Soeya of Keio University, the panel consisted of prominent Japan experts Prof. Kitti Prasirtsuk of Thammasat University and Prof. Ken Jimbo of Keio University. Prof. Kitti devoted his presentation to discussing how Japanese soft power has successfully penetrated the region through commonplace things such as Japanese cosplay, manga and cartoons, as well as Japanese corporate values which emphasise dedication and discipline. Prof. Jimbo then talked about the Japanese content industry and how it has yet to achieve its full potential in attracting Southeast Asian audiences, citing the comparatively more successful attempts by American and Korean media content in entertaining Southeast Asians of all generations.

The audience included people from the media, academia and, the private sector. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The question-and-answer discussions following the presentations revolved around supplementing soft power with hard power, and the opportunities and challenges for Japan in its efforts to engage Southeast Asia amidst a growing China. Around 40 people attended the seminar, including people from the media, academia and, the private sector.