Marketing Peace: Japan’s Brand

I published a commentary this week in The Japan Times that explores the use of marketing tools and techniques to “sell” the most wanted concept in our lives: global peace. I participated in the 2016 World Business for World Peace conference in Hiroshima October 14-15, which inspired this article.

Can the ultimate marketing campaign sell peace?

Hiroshima Mayor and I .jpg

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Dr. Nancy Snow, March 2016

Should U.S. remain the world police?

The World’s Police Force

There are many reasons to love National Public Radio, but the most recent is that NPR provided immediate fact checking and a transcript for the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

First, the New York Times ended Donald Trump’s candidacy with its post-debate October Surprise front page article (October 1, 2016), Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, but I digress.

Japan showed up YUGE in this first debate. Trump seems equally obsessed with Japan as he is with China and TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). Here are a few excerpts where Trump (and Clinton) discuss Japan, which follows an exchange about who has the better temperament (steadiness) to serve as commander-in-chief:

HILLARY CLINTON: He has said repeatedly that he didn’t care if other nations got nuclear weapons – Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia. It has been the policy of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, to do everything we could to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He even said, you know if there were nuclear war in East Asia well, you know, that’s fine, have a good time folks.

DONALD TRUMP: I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons. Not global warming like you think and your president thinks. Nuclear is the single greatest threat. Just to go down the list we defend Japan. We defend Germany. We defend South Korea. We defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune.

NPR Fact Check: South Korean government figures show it paid around $866.6 million     in 2014 for the U.S. military presence in the country. That’s about 40 percent of the cost. Japan’s budget shows that it covers about $4 billion in base-related expenses. [Source: NPR Seoul-based Asia correspondent Elise Hsu @elisewho]

A quick look at Elise Hsu’s Twitter feed reveals a strong anti-Trump position, but this does not mean that I cannot trust her fact check postings. She was probably thrilled to call Trump on his errors.

But here’s the most interesting U.S.-Japan revelation. Japan symbolizes to Trump the feeling that he and many Americans have that the U.S. cannot keep propping up the defense systems of former war enemies turned allies.

DONALD TRUMP: And it’s a big problem, and is as far Japan is concerned, I want to help all of our allies but we are losing billions and billions of dollars. We cannot be the policeman of the world. We cannot protect countries all over the world.

HILLARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying words matter, words matter when you run for president and they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them. It is essential that America’s word be good.

NPR Fact Check: While this Clinton statement is underlining the basics of America’s traditional foreign policy, it illustrates a key difference between the candidates. Trump doesn’t want to be “policeman of the world,” but a longstanding key of America’s Asia policy for keeping peace in the Pacific is maintaining decades-old alliances with Japan and South Korea. Many view the U.S.-Japan-R.O.K alliance as a bulwark against a rising China, so it’s interesting that Trump both demonizes China when speaking of trade and believes China to be key in solving the North Korea problem but does not support alliances that can be a counterweight to it. [Source: @elisewho]

US News just published an op

So what do some Japanese think of Trump’s statement about the U.S. serving as the policeman of the world?

Here is a sample of reactions by my International Relations students at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies:

  • I think the U.S. should be the policeman of the world. No one can take the U.S. position, however other countries might as well share some responsibilities.
  • As the sole superpower, the U.S. has assumed the role of world’s policeman. Citing a moral responsibility to uphold freedom and democracy around the world, America intervenes in foreign conflicts and wields unprecedented global power. But should America invest its resources and energy in global policing? Or should the strongest nation on earth turn its focus inward and respect the autonomy of its neighbors? In my opinion, America is not or should not be the policeman of the world. But it’s hard to quit because, for example, for Japan America is like the “safety of the world.” How does the U.S. keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?
  • I think America doesn’t need to keep being police of the world because the large amount of money for military is hard for America. I hope every country doesn’t have military power in future. I hope America reduces the military power step-by-step.
  • America should continue to be the world’s policemen because when one country has strong power, the world is more integrated.
  • The U.S. should remain world police because there are a lot of problems in the world, both China and Russia spreading their policies—for example, China declaring its territory in the South China Sea.
  • I think that America doesn’t need to be world police because it has a big burden to continue being world police.
  • President Obama said that the policeman of the United States is not the policeman of the world, but I do not think so. The U.S. should keep staying the world police at least for now. The world is unstable (civil war in Syria, missile attack by North Korea). If the U.S. or President Obama abandons the world police, then how does the world get its problems resolved? I think the world economies are going to crumble, also China or Russia is going to get out of control.
  • The U.S. should be paying the money for the bases and the U.S. should be the policeman of the world. We need someone to lead our world and I don’t want Trump do that. We have SDF so we should be protecting ourselves but we also need support. Some country or institution has to take the lead to make the world peace and police the world.
  • I think Hillary Clinton made a really good point in her debate. Trump should have known about the mutual defense agreement as key to keeping the peace in East Asia.

As I have often observed, if Japan were able to vote in the U.S. presidential election, Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide. This is not Trump country and no one is riding the Trump train.




Abe Conversation with Reuters

Abe Interview with Reuters

Check out this speech by “His Excellency” (usually reserved for royals) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York City on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Abe starts out his speech with a joke:

I am Shinzo Abe, not Mario.(laughter)

Like Mario, though, I can keep on fighting, fighting to boost Japan’s economy. (no laughter)

Japan’s economy is no joke. PM Abe has been around now for a second time since December 2012. What new does he offer in 2016? We will watch and you will decide what should be the priority for Japan in relation to the global economy and global society.


Clinton Towers Trump in First Debate

hillary-clinton-in-shinkansenIt’s too early to call the election but if the vote were held in Japan, Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide. This is a non-scientific poll since I’m basing this on the audible gasp from my students when the race was reported “neck and neck” before the Hofstra debate.

[If you are in the mood for a lengthier treatise on the first debate, check out my Clinton Towered Trump Huffington Post blog.]

What did Hillary Clinton do right? Plenty. She was calm in Trump’s storm. She was prepared and full of pokes and zingers to get Trump off his game.

Two weeks ago it was Hillary Clinton unsteady on her feet. In Hempstead, New York, it was Trump looking and sounding frustrated and unfocused.

What did Donald Trump do wrong? He was too “Donald being Donald.” He interrupted. He forgot (God forbid) that he was always on camera, thanks to that pro-Hillary split screen. In the general election season, all six weeks of it left before November 8, Trump will need to act more like what too many are frightened to imagine: President Trump.

It’s still possible for him to TRiUMPh, but he will have to be more disciplined, calm, and steady in the next two debates. He is now facing a candidate who doesn’t fear him, is not intimidated, and is red power suit ready!


CNN Reports on Millennials and Sexless Japan and I’m Part of the Story

On  Tuesday I was interviewed by CNN International “Japan’s Virgins” about a recent government survey that reported nearly half of millennials in Japan (well, actually 44%) are not sexually active at all. Of course this is no one’s business but the person being surveyed, but why this matters beyond the titillating headline is that we all know how obsessed the government of Japan is with fertility and procreation.

Japan’s future survival depends on producing more Japanese to support a rapidly aging and long-living population (think inverted pyramid). It’s not reasonable to expect Japan to reverse a long course of severely limiting immigration or opposing much intermarriage. That’s why whether or not young people are even open to sexual relations with each other is a policy and political concern with international implications. Think about it. If Japanese aren’t reproducing themselves in larger numbers, then Japan won’t have personnel for its military and industry. And Prime Minister Abe’s Japan has big plans for Japan’s military. He needs to replenish forces with more Japanese men and women.

If you haven’t had a chance, please buy a copy of my latest book, Japan’s Information War, published in July 2016. Copies are literally flying off the shelves. The difference is that those shelves are mine as I remove copies I bought to take with me when I give invited lectures. (Warning: If you a student enrolled in my classes at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, you are a  captive audience and you will be required to read my book this semester.) Read my chapter, “No Sex: Brand Japan Stereotypes.” In it I spend a lot of time talking about sex in Japan as portrayed in the global media. Why? Because the world seems fascinated with whether or not the Japanese younger generation is getting together, coupling, dating, uniting–you get the picture. Well, let’s just ask Barry White to paint that picture for us:

So the world is fascinated with sexless Japan. Just check out this YouTube personality, Philip DeFranco, who showed my picture and quoted me from the CNN story:

You see, sex sells! Always has, always will. I could talk about the most serious policy issue and get no attention but if I comment about sex, then I’m famous for a half a minute.

Here’s the rub.

What is happening here in Japan is occurring in other parts of the world. Like Italy. The difference is that we associate Italian men and women with romance and love. It’s part of nation brand Italy: fast cars and even faster men. Or if we are seeking classic romance, then it’s Italy again. Think Roman Holiday. Better yet, watch Roman Holiday. Maybe it will put us all in the romantic mood. But I digress.

My suggestion to Japanese Millennials: Relax.half full

Don’t feel pressured to overcome global media stereotypes or exaggerations. The country of Japan is going to survive. It will be fine. It may have to open itself up more to foreigners in various categories from short-term workers to permanent residents, but I have full confidence that this country is going to right the ship. Or should I say love boat?!


Clinton Health Major Campaign Concern

There is no question that despite the obvious liberal Democratic tilt that mainstream media is taking in Campaign 2016, one unavoidable vulnerability for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is her questionable health readiness for the job. Granted, both presidential nominees are senior citizens eligible for Social Security. But Clinton’s health is a meme touchdown for Donald Trump.

The video of Hillary Clinton being carried into her Scooby Van security vehicle at the 9/11 15th anniversary ceremony is enough to make every American citizen wonder about her physical fitness readiness for one of the most stressful jobs in the world. She’s 68 now and turns 69 on October 26th, just two weeks before Election Day. Donald Trump turned 70 on June 14th. He has his own vulnerabilities, including his birther comments about Barack Obama, reluctance to release his full tax returns, Trump University, etc., but he seems like a political and persuasive mega machine compared to Hillary Clinton. (See my Trump talk from May 2016).

Trump’s supporters call themselves the centipedes–they just keep crawling along, slow and steady, and they are solidly behind Trump. Whatever he says, whatever he does, he isn’t going to lose his core centipede supporters. The ground underneath Hillary Clinton isn’t so solid. She is still favored in the election, but my political friends and news junkies, we have never seen an election in American political history quite like this one. I know that I haven’t seen one in my lifetime. This state of politics in America, partial hat tip to Thomas Hobbes, is nasty, brutish but long. Much too long.

Hold onto your sanity. It’s going to be a bumpy autumn.

Brand Hillary vs. Brand Trump

Hillary’s campaign slogan: I’m with

Trump’s campaign slogan: Make America great again.


Does a presidential election increasingly come down to a slogan or catchy phrase put to music? Yes, indeed. But not just this year. It’s been part of the American political landscape in the modern mass media era for over sixty years.

In 1952, Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower was helped by his catchy I Like Ike campaign commercial. Or consider this repetitive jingle about Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy from 1960. Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy! In 1972, we had Nixon Now.

What do all these slogans and campaign songs have in common? They use a propaganda technique called glittering generalities, identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938 as one of the 7 main propaganda techniques. Something that glitters is like gold. It connotes something positive or ideal, even if the particular policies attached to these words are never explained.

I’m with her connotes attachment to potentially the first woman president of the United States. Get on board. Be a part of history making. Make America Great Again is a direct focus on nationalism and America first principles and ideals.

A GG (glittering generality) uses attractive but unspecific words that appeal to values and emotions. The more general and less specific a candidate can be, the better off s/he is with voters. Your goal is to appeal across a wide spectrum. Let the voters fill in the blanks as to the meaning of your GG. All you want is their support. Being too specific loses support.