Contemporary Japanese Fashion as a Vehicle of Soft Power: A Case Study of Cool Japan in Australia

Contemporary Japanese Fashion as a Vehicle of Soft Power: A Case Study of Cool Japan in Australia
Tets Kimura

Summary

While Joseph Nye asserts that soft power ought to be combined with hard power for a nation to effectively assert its international policies, Japan is determined to revitalise its struggling economy by using only its soft assets of cultural attraction. The logic is, as the demand of “Cool Japan” goods are increasing, their attractiveness alone is adequate to increase consumption internationally.

In order to assess the soft power potential of Japanese fashion in Australia, two different modes of primary analyses were undertaken: one drawn from analysis of Australian print media, such as newspapers and fashion magazines; and a secondary one based on qualitative interviews with seventeen Australian and Japanese specialists who were purposefully selected—notably, government officials (including a Prime Minister Abe's adviser and diplomats), and fashion specialists (editors, designers, retailers, a fashion model and a tailor).

While the findings identify legitimate acceptance of Japanese fashion in Australia, Australians also find Japanese fashion no better than Western fashion – as exemplified by the lower-than-expected business performance of Uniqlo, the largest Japanese fashion brand. This paper concludes that Japan’s soft power goal with its focus on economic contributions is unlikely to be fulfilled through fashion in Australia considering its limited demand.

Author

Tets Kimura

Defended in

2019

PhD defended at

Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia), College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Specialisation

Social Sciences

Region

Global Asia (Asia and other parts of the World)
Japan

Theme

International Relations and Politics
Art and Culture