The Japanese government has been promoting Cool Japan since 2010 and ever since, various industries in Japan have had a keen eye on the rest of the world - some have taken action while others remain cautious.
This week, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held the Cool Japan Conference where they invited about 90 of Japan's top corporations and content producers for a business matching session.
I had the honor of being invited to talk at the meeting along with the likes of AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto and Yukio Edano - currently the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry but formerly the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
Since the Japanese government started to notice my shenanigans, I've been working for them on various projects. Recently, they have assigned me as a Creative Director for a project called Mazer which I talk about in this post.
Checking out the map after getting out the station. The whole of Kasumigaseki is filled with government buildings.
The pass to get into the headquarters of METI and my thumb which has been chewed by a dog.
Meeting room filled with a few hundred people - this view of folks at the front of the room.
Load of press folks too.
Sanford R. Climan is the CEO of All Nippon Entertainment Works - a company that is backed by the government - their mission is to bring more Japanese content overseas and make sure that costs are recuperated and profits are made.
The flow of the meeting is simple - content producers give a pitch and the large corporations decide whether they want to do business with us. The government will then match us up and we do wheelings and dealings - win x win.
A ton of folks at the back too including Kadokawa, King Records, Nico Nico and Good Smile Company - I was asked to blur this photo though ^^;
I've never given a pitch of this scale before - and I had to do it in 5 mins ^^; I've only really started to give talks in Japanese ever since I started to work with the government.
A quick going over my background - mentioning that I worked at Japan Airlines as an Engineer, Amazon as Website Manager and Microsoft as a Product Manager was a mouthful and took up time so I now combine everything into this slide and just mention that most of my previous work has been IT related without going over the company names as they can read it on the slide.
Japanese folks usually only do business with those who have a reputable background or through an introduction so this slide is important to have at the beginning. If you are giving a talk of any kind, let your audience briefly know what you do and what your background is which will help them decide whether they want to stay awake for the rest of your talk ^^;
One of the reasons why this meeting is so important is because the government is making the introductions for us.
The company that I setup after I left cooperate life is called Mirai Inc - the mission is disseminate Japanese culture throughout the world through various means such as web, TV and other media and products - this is done under the Culture Japan brand.
My job is to establish relations with various Japanese companies and work with their teams to produce content - web, print, mobile applications, products, events etc.
Talking about how I use social media to disseminate information.
Going over the type of information that I share - pop culture, tradition, food, fashion and so on.
Talking about user engagement.
Going over my TV show Culture Japan which is broadcast in Japan, America and Asia.
Talking about the events I help organize around the world which includes Anime Festival Asia and Anime Expo. Also talk about Culture Japan Night.
I talk about the web platforms that we provide for companies like Good Smile Company, Bushiroad, Kadokawa, King Records, Konami, Ascii Media Works and so on.
I didn't get time to update the collage of Mirai-chan cosplayers ;-;
I finish off with a summary of how companies in the audience and I can work together. Done in less that 5 mins and a very very dry throat!
The surprise guests - AKB48 Producer Yasushi Akimoto and Yukio Edano - currently the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry but formerly the Chief Cabinet Secretary. If you followed the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis then you will certainly recognize him as he was the one who gave all the official statements on TV in his blue jacket.
Edano-san and Akimoto-san are here mainly to give a pep talk to the manufacturers encouraging them to work with content producers together to bring Japanese products to more people around the world.
Akimoto-san's final words of advice is "Collaboration is key" and gives an analogy. It does not matter how healthy a carrot may be for a kid - if the kid does not like carrots then s/he wont want it.
But what you do is add apple juice - its taste may be appealing to that kid who didn't like carrots - a successful collaboration.
Akimoto-san talks about how more and more young folks are wanting Korean products - music, cosmetics, fashion, electronics etc etc.
I speak, read and write Korean and have always been interested in Korean culture - but I dont get much opportunity to consume Korean content apart from all the Koren drama that wifey watches ^^
Hmm who do we has here?
My talk is done but Fuji TV want to interview me before I run back to base.
My hair has finally grown back from being bald for the past few months - Yes I shaved most of it off ^^;
Heading back to base.
Whenever there is a Cool Japan conference, the subject of Korea is always brought up. The title in the top left corner is "Growing the overseas market - learning from the Korean boom."
WBS didn't mention company names because they would have been speared too ^^; But I guess you can get a good idea after they mention companies from the field of anime, music, electronics, food manufacturers and airlines.
Content Producers X Manufacturers.
You read what it was like for me when I was living in the UK - the Internets didn't exist back then! If I wanted information about Japan, I pretty much relied on two Japanese book shops in London where I picked up magazines, books and the occasional snack. There was hardly anything about Japan in local newspapers or TV.
These days however, you've got places like JList which can send just about anything to all corners of the world - including health material which I had to get from a newspaper ^^;;;
But how about brick and mortar stores? Are there shops readily available in your neck of the woods that sell japanese stuff? How about your local TV or newspapers - information available about the Japanese news you care about?