Nikkei: 'Cool Japan' Initiatives Fail to Meet Expectations

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Japanese government allotted 45.9 billion yen to Cool Japan program for 2017

Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei published a report on Monday that Cool Japan Fund Inc., the public-private company that the Japanese government employs to fund projects as part of its "Cool Japan" program, has under-performed in most of its investments. The report claimed that, according to internal documents, 10 or more of the company's 18 investments that it decided on last year are proving so far unsuccessful. The report further alleged that many of these projects are connected closely to the company's leadership.

The article provided an example, with Cool Japan Fund Inc. supposedly spending 250 million yen (about US$2.1 million) to partner with a Nagasaki business consortium to acquire a 50% stake in a venture to operate cafes specializing in Japanese tea in the United States. Nikkei reported that a director with business ties to Nagasaki and a friend to a main figure in the Nagasaki-based consortium spurred on this partnership. The business opened its first branch in 2016, but after failing to acquire necessary permits, began to operate as a take-out business. The report claimed that the Nagasaki-based consortium filed for arbitration in September to break up the investment after its relationship with Cool Japan Fund Inc. broke down.

The report also noted that the fund invested 4.4 billion yen (about US$38 million) in WakuWaku Japan, an entertainment channel that broadcasts Japanese entertainment and operates in East and Southeast Asia. The report cited sources that said Cool Japan Fund Inc. Chairman Kazunobu Iijima, an outside director of the channel's SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation parent company, drove the investment. The channel has seen a nearly 4 billion yen (about US$35 million) loss over the past two years.

The Japanese Finance Ministry allotted 45.9 billion yen (about US$403 million) in funding for the "Cool Japan" program for its 2017 fiscal year, a 22% increase from last year.

"Cool Japan" is a program supported by the Japanese government and various companies that promotes modern Japanese culture such as anime and manga abroad. The program revolves around the premise that Japan's strength in business and international affairs lies in anime, manga, films, fashion, and other fields of Japanese arts and entertainment content.

Source: Nikkei (Yuta Saito)

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