Japan’s impressive year-on-year performance in the rankings continues this year, pushing into the top 5 for the first time and pushing Canada down to 6th. This is a great result for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, now Japan’s longest serving head of government. Political stability and stable economic growth – combined with an increasingly global outlook and greater involvement in international affairs – has helped Japan climb the index. Japan continues to wield considerable global influence through its soft power. The country’s efficiency; high standards for design and production quality; innovative tech industry; unique culture; and world renowned cuisine have all contributed to a strong result across the in the international polling this year. Japan must continue advancing its soft power agenda by promoting Japanese culture and playing an ever-greater role as a peaceful and democratic nation on the global stage. The 2020 Olympics will provide an ideal opportunity for Japan to showcase its strongest assets to the world. Can Japan’s climb up the ranking continue in 2019?
Japan is one of the best represented countries diplomatically, with over 150 embassies abroad, and it is a major contributor to international development. In fact, Japan is the second largest contributor to the UN’s budget. This year, Japan’s rank in the Culture sub-index slipped, while Digital improved significantly. Japan’s ability to engage with global audiences through digital platforms is an ideal way to make the country more accessible – something that has long been an issue given language barriers.
With a relatively low score on gender equality and a comparably poor performance in press freedom, Japan ranks 17th in the Government sub-index. Japan has dropped a few places in the Culture sub-index this year. While ‘Culture’ is by no means a weakness for Japan, accessibility can be an issue, and government could take a more active role in providing the right platforms to promote and project contemporary Japanese culture around the globe.
As it looks to invest more in its military capacity, Japan needs to find creative ways to better leverage its contemporary cultural assets. Building on the cultural strengths that have made it a nation loved and respected by many will help Japan to strengthen its position as a regional and global power. The upcoming Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be great opportunities to do exactly that.