Public-private fund set up to boost Cool Japan Initiative クールジャパンを後押しする官民ファンド ―海外需要獲得へ―

The Cool Japan Initiative, lunched under the government’s growth strategy in 2014, is one of the national policies now. The “cool" culture which the government is keen to export as content refers to one peculiar to Japan not found elsewhere. How to stir up overseas demand holds the key to success of the initiative. However, the present situation is that creators of content and smaller firms engaged in the business cannot afford to put up sales campaigns abroad on their own due to a lack of funds.



Cool Japan Fund Inc. established in 2013 under law is a public-private fund based on contributions made by the government and private businesses. It says on its official website: "We aim at promoting and supporting overseas demand for Japan's attractive products and services. So we supply risk money to the media and content, foods and services, fashion and lifestyle and various other fields to industrialize the attraction of Japan (cool Japan) and join it to the acquisition of overseas demand."



In addition to this, the fund is trying to devise business models that may help companies evolve their commercial activities abroad. This is because it finds few Japanese firms engaged in the content industry doing business overseas on a sustainable basis. It thinks that if it can create successful models for them, it can apply them to the players in other business lines across the board and link that to a further expansion of the overseas markets for Japanese culture. The fund is also aiming to help organize projects based on cross-cutting partnership beyond specific business categories and corporate affiliation with the aim of strengthening the information transmission capacity, which is a weak point for all Japanese culture brands.



The fund in principle makes its support available in those domains where the private sector alone cannot fully implement business projects. It urges the private sector to invest to help companies develop their overseas business. Its support is primarily provision of risk money. Its long-term aim is to prepare the ground so that the private sector can independently do their business on a continual basis. The fund is committed to “complement private businesses” to help them step up their activities abroad and become a new driving power for the growth of the Japanese economy.



Amid the growing visibility of “Cool Japan” on overseas markets, pirated editions of the contents Japanese firms want to export stay rampant everywhere. They pose serious problems that undermine the sales of genuine contents. Besides, the ratio of exports in content revenue was only 5% in Japan in 2011, way below 17% in the United States, according to the “Basic Data on Intellectual Property" released by the Cabinet Office’s Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters. This suggests the weakness of Japan’s information transmission capacity. However, the day will come when Japanese culture can support its economy if the public and private sectors put a great deal of effort to shore up the cool Japan business and overcome those challenges.



(Written by: Naoto Takeda)