Rozen Aso: Otaku Tourism Will Save Japan


Prime Minister Rozen Aso recently debuted his newest plan to shake Japan out of its economic doldrums: otaku tourism.

With one notable exception, Aso’s new plan differed little from the tired promises made in past.

Whilst his plan repeats oft mentioned commitments to an environmentally conscious economic strategy and promises to build a society friendly to the elderly, Aso also unveiled his determination to reinforce the country’s “soft power”.

Soft power is Aso’s euphemism for anime, manga and games, as well as Japanese fashion and similar.

By reinforcing the popularity of Japanese visual culture abroad, Aso hopes to bring foreign otaku by the millions to Japan to soak up the related culture and purchase anime-related goods directly at the source.

Aso confidently predicted that the otaku tourist trade could burgeon to 20 to 30 trillion yen and generate 500,000 new jobs.

The Prime Minister set a target for drawing 20 million foreign visitors to Japan by 2020, more than doubling the current number of 8 million.

Previous efforts to drastically increase tourism, such as the “Yokoso Japan” branding strategy, have met mixed results, but concentrated very strongly on traditional and very staid attractions such as onsen and ryokan, rather than the more modern appeal of Akiba maid sex parlors.

Via Japan Today.

Aso’s strategy looks flawed, or at least highly optimistic, from the very start.

The Japanese visual culture industry is not known for its high wages and a number of high profile studios have either significantly reduced staff or have closed shop altogether; the media industry seems an unlikely economic incubator, and traditional publishers have proven less than dynamic.

The media in question may harbor some technologically progressive industries (video games), but the tourism itself is unlikely to promote investment or consumption which will assure Japan’s technological and scientific growth.

Further, the Japanese themselves may balk at the idea of opening their country to legions of foreigners who may believe that Japan is filled to the brim with cosplaying maids and would-be ninjas (although they seem silent when tourists come expecting geisha and samurai). Even indigenous otaku suffer much scorn.

Many Japanese lament such a maniacal image being associated with them, wanting instead to be taken seriously.

They may overlook the fact that tens of millions the world over do not take much interest in the TV or comics of more “serious” countries…

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