ICHIYA’s POP Eye – Manga

 Pop star, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s “Moshi Moshi Nippon” is an NHK international TV show, which is available with the internet, has my corner “ICHIYA’s POP EYE”. It introduces Japanese cool things every time. Let me introduce some of them. 
  Today’s topic is Manga!
  Have you ever read Japanese manga? Japanese cartoon “manga” is now also popular overseas .
  In Japan, 64% of the published books are manga. 20% of the sales of all publications are manga. I think, at most, only 1% of respective sales in other countries are manga.

  There are all kinds of genre in manga. Sports , SF, Hero, gag, love romance, school life, economy, history, politics, food, science .
  Many people use manga to study. Actually I learned science almost exclusively through manga when I was a child.
  There are also manga magazine genre. For children, for young boys, for young girls, for adults, for adult ladies, etc.
  You can see many adults eagerly reading manga on the train in Japan . This can not be seen in other countries..It is a characteristic of Japan that both adults and children enjoy manga so much. The line between adults’ culture and children’s culture is ambiguous in Japan. Japanese adults might be childish.
  Many people draw manga. A manga festival, the so called "Comic Market" is held twice a year, and many amateur cartoonists exhibit and sell their works.Every time, 500,000 people participate in the event. Through this event of just a few days , total sales reach up to 500 million dollars. This is a scale of 1/ 3 of the revenue of the Japanese film industry .Manga culture is basically supported by the existence of many creators and fans.
  Japanese people read books from right to left. We open books with our right hand.It is the same with Manga, they are opened with the right hand. In most countries, books are opened with the left hand. Then, until several years ago, mangas outside Japan were opened with the left hand just like usual western books you read. So publishers had to re-print them the opposite way, in order to prepare them for export.
  This sounds more trivial than it actually is. It also influenced the content of the actual manga, for example, the original heroes shoot guns with their right hand, but the exported heroes were left handers.
  However, recently, manga fans in the western world tend to want to read manga in the Japanese way, so the western mangas are being printed so that you can read with your right hand. This may be the first phenomenon in the history of western civilization that oppositely printed materials appear on the shelves of book stores except for books for Arabic people.
  Let’s enjoy manga!


Multi x Social of the future

 This is a continuation of the talk show on “social media and multi-screen”. 

“Is social service still changing now?”
 That kind of social service refers to twitter, Facebook, Line etc… All these platforms changes each year, and it does not seem like they will stop anytime soon. How the media environment will continue to develop will depend on the ability of the users. 

 Users in Japan have high abilities in this regard. As Mr. Kawakawi, chairman of NikoNiko Douga puts it, Japanese people are good with Internet and free people who are connected to the Internet for 24 hours have high creativity. Users of more than one million people are building a network society in Japan. I agree with him. That is the reason why Japan currently holds the world record for tweets, why Hatsune Miku can be grown, and how Japan can stir up enough trouble to be referred as the superpower in the internet troubles. 

“How will multi-screen x social change from now on?”
   I do not know the answer to this. This is because just 10 years ago, social media did not even yet exist. What is clear is that Japan is different from the West, as the younger generation will be the ones creating new fields. Whereas the Western world will be led by business in the expansion of new services and products, in Japan teens will be creating new things out of their leisure. 

“How will devices change?”
  The next innovation might not be a screen. The other day, there was a celebration of the TV’s 60th anniversary and 20th anniversary of PC and mobile phone. After that there was smartphone and tablets, following which digital signage became a hit and became what we call ‘multi-screen’ today. However, Smart TV appeared and we went back to the television. I think the next innovation would be coming from elsewhere. 
  For example, wearable computer or robots. Robots or toys subjected to radio waves can show dance and become content. Alternatively, clothes, home appliances, cars can connect to the Internet and communicate. This is not difficult technically. In fab-labs, you can create your own hardware and downsize it. 

“Will it become non-verbal communication?”
  Well, there will not only be communication between people, but also between objects and between machines, so information in itself will increase explosively. That kind of big data world will be contiguous to the multi-screen world which we are discussing right now.  


What is multi-screen living?

 A talk show on “social media and multi-screen”. I was asked what exactly is multi-screen by moderator Dr. Nakamura. That is when I began to realize that different people have different notions of multi-screen. 

 As I am a basic nomad, I move around my house and three offices when working. There are televisions and PC in each location. They exist as multi-screens. However, I only use one screen each time. I am empty-handed during movement. 

 On the other hand, when my son is connecting the Internet to the television, he opens his PC notebook in front of the TV screen, while also tinkering around with his smartphone. In other words, he is using three screens at the same time. My colleague carries around his PC, smartphone, tablet and traditional cell phone while walking around. There are even people using multi-screen in the train. 

 The moderator introduced the business of various devices. For example, continuing the drama you watched on TV at home in the train using a smartphone. Television CM can also be played on the PC in the office or on the digital signage at the corner of the street. It is a single content with multi-screen. This type of multi-screen refers to the case when there are multi devices, but only one screen is used at each time. 

 But I am finding a different kind of multi-screen, as in the case where my son is utilizing three different screens simultaneously. It is a composition encircling a single user with TV content, PC information and smartphone social service merged together. It is a service to deliver multi-content through multi-screen and multi-channel telecommunications and broadcasting.

 Although till now television stations have been delivering programs by broadcasting waves, Internet companies have been delivering websites using broadband network, and communication companies have been delivering mobile content using mobile net, it is not possible for a single user to take hold of everything. The multi-device + channel + content must all be designed in total. 

 Too much is being relied on the user. I bought salad, fried dumplings and pasta from the convenience store and am eating all three at the same time. But this is because it is possible for me to pinpoint exactly my desires as to “what I really want to eat”, the power to edit my thoughts and having the convenience store to make all these possible. 
But what I really want in a cafeteria is for the items which I want to eat at the same time to be packed into a fixed set. I do not feel that editing three disparate screens by myself would be enjoyable and hope that someone would configure them into a single package. 


Participatory Pop Culture Policy

  For policies supporting pop culture, while manga, anime and games are fighting against government, there have been strong opinions that only the private sector has grown and that help should not be provided for the lousy ones. It is correct that only the private sector has grown. 
  Although Japan has built a variety of genres in pop culture in the Internet or mobile phones, they are all quite similar. From now on, I hope that each time a new media technology appears, Japan can make use of its comprehensive strength and create a new pop culture. 
Therein lays an issue where measures should be taken. 
Firstly, Japan is not taking advantage of its present situation. Rather than being a growing industry economically, content is actually shrinking and the production sites of anime are actually facing a dire situation. It is also not possible to be utilized politically. For the young generation situated overseas, Japan is equivalent to Pikachu and Doraemon rather than Sony or Toyota. This soft power is also not being taken advantage of. 
  Also, it is uncertain as to whether the present position can be kept. By definition, pop-culture is an ever-changing culture and it is only natural that it changes regularly. There is no guarantee that pop culture today will be the pop culture tomorrow, and we must always be prepared that it may get replaced by other pop culture from within or from overseas. So does Japan possess any mechanism to permanently create a culture and allow it to continue growing in perpetuity? I do not think that we can say so. I think that the government should consider this as a priority and have this mechanism to enrich the soil. 
   Criticism against the content policy is often directed towards the ‘budget’. For example, there have been calls “to not use taxpayer’s money at all cost!” As subsidies are given to the industry, each time the money flows to where something is wrong, there will be criticisms or calls to put aside the person-in-charge. I am personally also opposed to industry protection and am often hesitant towards such industry measure budgets. However, money is necessary for infrastructure development (digital environment) and human resource development (education). 

  However, one can say that the ongoing criticisms against the government has arisen due to the fact that they are not able to gain the people’s trust in their ‘discerning ability’ to allocate how much resources and to which policy. It is reasonable to say that politicians and bureaucrats are not able to tell the good and bad for the content. Organizations with authority, such as the councils, also tend to have a prejudiced view. 
  It will be ideal if we are able to think about ‘everyone’ in the pop culture which is built by built by ‘everyone’. Although I am not sure how effective if selection is done by having elections through the Internet, I feel that a policy that is of participatory nature is being demanded today. 


The Rationale for Pop Culture Policy

 It has almost been 20 years since content has become one particular policy genre. The government has turned up the gear and launched Cool Japan and pop culture with top priority.
 However, should one talk about pop culture policy, without hearing the content, there will often be arguments like “I don’t think this country does this!” Although manga, anime and games can be said to be popular overseas, it has reached at most to the level of “sub” culture yet and hence one will be replied with a cold gaze if it is used as a subject for discussion. 
 The Cool Japan concept was conceived when Mr. Douglas Maggurei first wrote it in his book, ‘Japan’s Gross National Cool’. Havard University Professor Joseph Nye, advocator of soft power, then suggested that Japan should make use of its strength in pop culture. Hence, rather than being a concept conceived out of Japan’s self-evaluation, Cool Japan is actually a discovery made from outside the country. Domestic sentiments were indecisive.  

 But why is a pop culture policy necessary in the first place? We need to organize the circumstances behind this. 
First, it is adopted as an economic policy. Whether it is anime or music, popular content can be made into a business. We can leave it alone if that is the case. It should have completed its targeting policy. However, the ripple effects that are felt by Japan due to this, such as favorability and a sense of longing, which economics would term as ‘external effects’ cannot be counted in business. The socio-economic benefits that should be obtained from content production are too miniscule. I will enhance this policy. 
 As a consequence, rather than being an economic policy that aims to boost sales of the content industry itself, content is seen as the catalyst that aim to improve industries as a whole, such as appliances, food products, tourism etc. 

 Secondly, it is adopted as cultural diplomacy. The soft power which Professor Nye is suggests, is the ability to attract other countries with culture in an international relations context. I recently held a lecture to dozens of PhD students in Peking University on media policies in the midst of a shaky Japan-China relation. 
 At that time, I received a number of questions regarding pop culture trend from the audience. I am sure everyone will like pop culture. Pop culture subjects like Naruto and One Piece is an effective subject to stop quarrels. 

 However, it still remains a challenge as an evaluation index is still not available. Stanford University was once planning a project in Japan Centre to develop a GDPP (Pop Power Index) but as there were insufficient sponsors, the project was not completed successfully. This is something I would like to try to do again.