Cool Japan! It’s been a while since you’ve heard that phrase, no?
Over the years, the Japanese government’s soft power push overseas has been met with criticism from all corners, from pop culture icons like Takashi Murakami and Ryuichi Sakamoto, to the intended audience itself, this writer included.
But did you know that the Cool Japan Fund was still going, five years after reporting came out that it was a money-losing flop?
This past June, The Asian Shimbun reported that nine years after its founding, the Cool Japan Fund “may be merged with other investment funds or eliminated if it cannot turn around its losses soon.”
This came from a proposal a subcommittee of the Fiscal System Council, an advisory panel to Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, made that month.
As of the end of March 2022, the government had contributed a total of ¥106.6 billion to the fund. At the end of fiscal 2020, however, the fund had accumulated losses of ¥23.1 billion. This loss is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2021, the Cool Japan Fund released a plan for improving its business operations and set a goal of keeping accumulated losses at ¥25.7 billion at the end of fiscal 2021. However, losses increased to ¥30.9 billion.
At the June subcommittee meeting, Cool Japan Fund officials said they expected a turnaround alongside general improvement in the economy as the pandemic is brought under control.
While Cool Japan Fund officials planned to create another business improvement plan by autumn, the subcommittee consensus was to consider merging the fund or eliminating it if there was no improvement in its financial situation.
That brings us to this week.