Time Magazine: From Japan With Love

The cover story of the December 1, 2008 Japan issue of Time Magazine, titled Japan Reaches Out, describes Japan’s growing soft power making it a responsible world leader, in spite of its poor political and economic situation.

Foreign interest in learning Japanese is stronger today, with nearly 3 million people worldwide studied Japanese as a foreign language in 2006.  Instead of learning Japanese simply for career reasons (which is already a good reason), people learn the language because of their interest in Japanese culture.


According to the article, Japan’s “soft power comes from its culture, innovation and financial heft”.

  • Cute Factor.  A prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior, and mannerisms is called kawaii. Cute merchandise is extremely popular in Japan- who hasn’t heard of Hello Kitty?
  • Gaming.  Homes worldwide feature Japanese gadgets like Nintendo Wii
  • Financial Might. Amid the global financial crisis, Japan has embarked on an investment and M&A spree. Japan is the second largest economy behind the US
  • Foreign Assistance. Although less in recent years due to its economic slowdown in the past decade (Japan was first in the early 1990 during its boom, but now ranks 5th in the world), Japan continues to send billions of foreign aid.  More recently, there has been a rise of Japanese volunteers abroad
  • Environmental Awareness. Japan is the home of the Kyoto Protocol and pioneered ecologically friendly vehicles such as the hybrid Toyota Prius

According to a BBC poll this year, Japan was ranked second in the world when it comes to a positive global image.  Germany barely edged out Japan for the No. 1 spot, while the U.S. was seventh.  It is interesting that the two countries involved in World War II have transformed and quickly rebounded from their devastations.  About 10 years ago I worked in Germany for about 6 months and am currently working in Japan, and I would definitely agree with this ranking.

6 thoughts on “Time Magazine: From Japan With Love

  1. Me too, I’m one of the nearly 3 million people worldwide studying Japanese as a foreign language not for the career reasons but simply for the ‘Cute Factor’.

    Regarding the ‘Environmental Awareness’, I think Japanese people are the best especially on this area. Couple of my Japanese friends told me that they’ve been educated to well protect their environment since very young age. I heard couple incidents from my friends. One example was he had a broken clock, before he threw it out as garbage, he needed to take it apart into pieces such that paper parts aside, plastic parts aside, metal parts aside, then threw them away on different category garbage collection days. The amount of efforts to disassemble the clock was not trivial. However, they all think that they are obligated to do that in order to protect their environment. Wow! My jaw was dropped when I first heard from my friend. But that’s very common and normal to the Japanese.

    Can we do that in North America? Well, in Canada, people are having hard time to deal with blue box, green box, and yard waste. 😦

  2. Pingback: Time Magazine: From Japan With Love « Konnichiwa | Japanese Gadgets | Aura Gadget

  3. tokyo5, no I am “language challenged” … didn’t learn any German during my stay, the people I was working with spoke very good English, as I have not learned Japanese yet. Though I was only in Germany for about 6 months – was really more like a long business trip. Personally, I found Germany to be very clean and efficient, and the German people to be very friendly and helpful.

    Otto, yes I knew you were learning Japanese because you love Japan’s culture – good for you.

    Thank you both for commenting.

  4. Yeah, learning a language as an adult is difficult! And I’m lazy about studying… 😉

    >I found Germany to be very clean and efficient, and the German people to be very friendly and helpful.

    I think the same could be said about Japan!

  5. > I think the same could be said about Japan!

    Yes, I agree – I guess it makes sense that they are #1 and #2 in the survey. I am very lucky to have had a chance to live in both these fine countries … as well as living in Canada.

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