Japan is of particular significance to our group's case study of South Korea's Public Diplomacy. Relations between Japan and Korea have been strained in the past, due to their colonial history. Nonetheless, Korea has had trouble promoting awareness and improving its image abroad, and has looked to the success of Japan as a model. As a result, Korea has adopted some of the same public diplomacy tactics as kind of a roadmap for gaining international recognition, and incidentally, along the way relations between the two have improved.
Tadashi Ogawa's chapter on the Origin and Development of Japan's Public Diplomacy highlights several aspects of Japanese public diplomacy which I noticed were mirrored by some of Korea's recent initiatives. In 2004, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was reformed to include culture more strategically as a public diplomacy resource. This led to the incorporation of public relations and cultural exchange into a newly established Public Diplomacy Department (PDD). Similarly, Korea established the Presidential Council on Nation Branding (PCNB) in January 2009. It also takes a public relations market approach to improving Korea's image, and has focused on advancing policies aimed at promoting the country’s culture and history worldwide.
Ogawa points out that a weakness of the Japanese approach is that there is no inter-ministerial coordination system within the Japanese government to discuss overall public diplomacy strategies or advise on resource allocation, performance, management, and evaluation. Korea has the same problem of a lack of cohesion around its PD efforts which have resulted in weak branding campaigns that have fallen flat.
A more successful aspect of Japanese strategy that Korea is trying to recreate is leveraging the success of pop-culture abroad. Similar to the J-Pop phenomenon, K-Pop first took off as a market phenomenon where cultural products gained popularity with global consumers. Recognizing the potential to wield soft power from the K-wave, (aka Hallyu), as Japan did with the J-wave, the Korean government has started subsidizing firms that promote Korean culture abroad, and allocating funding for production of new cultural and media products. In Japan part of the mass appeal of cultural products can be attributed to the "odorless" nature of exports like anime and manga, which Allison describes in Attractions of the J Wave. To quell animosity and perceptions of cultural hegemony in neighboring Asian countries, Korea has adopted a similar strategy for its pop-culture productions, favoring a more pan-Asian image.
2002 was a year where Japan and Korea united their PD efforts directed at the world as well as each other. They co-hosted the FIFA World Cup, and the Presidents agreed to designate 2002 as the Year of Japan-ROK National Exchange and to promote exchange in fields such as culture, sports, youth, regional exchange, and tourism. Ogawa notes how the Japanese perception of Korea was dramatically improved and, going forward relations between the two have been stable, thanks in large part to numerous people-to-people exchanges.