Japan Regains its Position as a Global Cultural and Trend Leader

NEW YORK -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- February 14, 2004

The Japan External Trade Organization New York (JETRO NY) released a newsletter today highlighting regional development in Japan. It can be viewed at:


Economic Adjustment Accentuates Cultural and Artistic Innovation in Japan

  • Economic adjustment has led to higher unemployment for Japanese workers.

    For those aged 20-24, it was about 9.2% last July. One outgrowth of the difficulty of finding full-time jobs has been the rise of "Freeters", a Japanese word combining the English word free and the German word Arbeiter (laborer), which are estimated to encompass about 3 percent of the nation's workforce. While many of these individuals are seeking full-time positions, others are comfortable with this lifestyle believing it gives them more time to express themselves. Another result of uncertain times has been a greater reluctance by Japanese youth to set up independent households and to start families.

    This has negative long-term consequences, yet over the short term it is resulting in additional disposable income, particularly among young women. Driving higher consumption within this key demographic, it is helping to support the emergence of new fashion and style trends, other leisure-oriented activities, and a social environment that one analyst describes as "(Japanese) people want to return to an era where life was perceived to be more enjoyable".

Cultural Exports Constitute an Emerging Growth Sector in Japan

  • The growing appeal of Japanese cultural exports has been covered by many prominent publications. Some analysts estimate the entertainment industry in Japan is worth up to about 10% of the nation's GNP and cultural exports -- in the form of sales and royalties from music, video games, anime, art, films and fashion -- have increased 300% since 1992 to $12.5 billion, while exports as a whole increased only 20%. The result of this renewed popularity is that Japanese themes are now emerging with more prominence outside of Japan. For example, several films dealing with Japanese themes are up for nomination at the upcoming Academy Award celebration this month. Japanese players have also become more involved in North American sports.

Japan Exerts More Influence in International Art, Entertainment and Style

  • Animation/Video Games: Japanese "anime" and "manga" are quickly gaining in popularity around the world. Japan also exhibits a strong competitiveness in video games. One analyst recently commented on this trend noting "Japan has changed from being a manufacturing and industrial society to a pop-culture society".

  • Industrial, Product and Interior Design and Architecture: Japanese firms have long been seen seen as innovators in product design. Their ability to introduce well-crafted color televisions, cameras, and later on VCRs and other forms of consumer electronics as well as high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles has been positively received by consumers around the world. The clean, minimalist look of Japanese style as well as many futuristic elements have been incorporated into many office and home interiors and a recent building boom in Tokyo has offered international design firms and architects an opportunity to design some of the most exciting and innovative commercial real estate projects in the world today.

  • Fashion, Music, Technology and Consumer Trends: Japanese designers have been well known for many years to lovers of fashion and the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya recognized as mandatory stops one must visit not only to view emerging fashion trends but to experience what one analyst terms the ability to "Recognize The Future When It Lands On You".   Japanese musical stars are also proving popular in other Asian markets.

    Furthermore, Japan leads the U.S. and many other markets in many consumer trends, for example the application of new mobile technologies to retailing and lifestyle choices as well as digital convergence.

  • Food and Cuisine: Japanese cuisine is becoming extremely popular and one can now find sushi and other Japanese foods in supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores and other locations around the world.

and statistics have been compiled by JETRO from publicly-released media accounts. JETRO does not guarantee their accuracy, and any such information should be checked by the reader before they are used to make any business or investment decision.

Contact: Satoshi Miyamoto
Executive Director, JETRO NY
Tel: 212-997-0416
Fax: 212-997-0464
E-mail: Satoshi_Miyamoto@jetro.go.jp.

Focus is published and disseminated by JETRO New York, in coordination with KWR International, Inc., New York, NY 10023, Tel: 212-532-3005, Fax: 212-799-0517, E-mail:
. JETRO New York is registered as an agent of the Japan External Trade Organization, Tokyo, Japan and KWR International, Inc. is registered on behalf of JETRO New York. This material is filed with the Department of Justice where the required registration

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