The private-public fund known as the Cool Japan Fund, launched to promote Japanese culture around the world, is struggling to deliver results, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Reception to many Cool Japan-funded products in Japan and around the world has been, shall we say, cool.
That includes WakuWaku Japan, a television network that broadcasts anime and live-action programming in East Asian countries like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
One of the problems with the Cool Japan Fund is that funds are allocated to projects with sound business plans, but to entrepreneurs who have a previous relationship with fund executives, writes Yuta Saito.
Another example cited in the article is a U.S.-based Japanese tea cafe, which lacked a license to serve food and drink on-site and could only sell take-out. The consortium that runs the cafe is currently looking to get out if its Cool Japan agreement.
In 2014, the Cool Japan Fund invested in Tokyo Otaku Mode, a website that reports on and sells otaku-related items. The site was not mentioned in the Nikkei article.
The idea of Japan as “cool” has, of course, been around long before it became official government policy—but talk of its culture as possessing incredible “soft power” (as opposed to the “hard power” represented by economic and military might), and similar funding efforts by countries like South Korea, inspired the creation of the fund in 2013.
Four years down the road, it remains to be seen whether the Cool Japan Fund will ever warm up.