The Invasion Of Japans Pop Culture In Asia Cultural Studies Essay

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Since 1990s, Japan has become a vibrant culture-exporting country. From pop music to consumer products and fashion, Japan has grown in its global cultural influence and it is now common to see Japanese pop culture in many countries. The article 'Cute Power!' by Barbara Koh seeks to show the popularity of Japanese pop culture in Asia and that Asians have developed a liking for Japanese pop culture.

Koh begins her article with a factual account of the Japanese pop culture in Hong Kong by giving an example of how youths in Hong Kong love Japanese pop culture because it is "kawaii", referred to as "cute" in Japan. This allows the readers to better relate to the article as it gives credibility and raises interest. She writes the article with the purpose of showing the diffusion of Japanese pop culture into Asian countries through mediums such as music, products, games and movies, replacing American's culture as the new "in" thing.

Koh presents various claims and examples to show how Asia is in love with Japan's pop culture and how Japan's pop culture has invaded the society of Asia. However, her argument is unconvincing because she provides insufficient and inaccurate evidences to support her argument.

Koh makes claims that are inaccurate. She claims that "the best technology comes from Japan and the Americans do good copies of it." True enough, Japan may be one of the leading countries in technology, scientific and medical research and machinery as seen in its technological contributions like innovations in robotics which account for more than half of the world's industrial robots. However, this does not mean Japan owns the best technology because the US makes the most advanced weapons and it has major advancements in not just military technology, but also in space technologies like spacecrafts, solar system and the global positioning system. In this argument, she makes no comparison of the technology of Japan and the US to arrive at her conclusion except to mention that "the most influential individuals in recent Asian history are Nintendo's Mario Brothers and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog." Also, Koh mentions that "the western-style cool is out." Again, this is not entirely true as western pop culture like music, movies and dance is still popular in Asian countries like Singapore and the Philippines. Therefore, the article lacks credibility.

Next, Koh does not define terms used in the article clearly. Koh's reference to Asian countries seems to be limited to a few countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan. She does not include other countries like Philippines, India and Eurasia countries like Russia, which are also part of Asia, in the examples and arguments used to support her thesis. It seems like she deliberately omits the use of the other countries because clearly, not the entire Asia is "in love with Japan's pop culture". In doing so, she generalizes the love for Japan's pop culture in all Asian countries. On top of that, she defines 'pop culture' narrowly to only comprise of entertainment, namely music, fashion, movies and toys. What about sports like sumo wrestling and food like sushi, which are popular among Asian countries too? The above two examples are other aspects of Japanese pop culture that are also popular in some Asian countries. However, Koh fails to address them and this gives readers a narrow view of the Japanese pop culture and raises doubts on the article.

Lastly, there is a lack of comprehensive evidence to support Koh's argument. Koh claims that "What Asians seem to love about Japanese pop culture is the fact that it's so darn 'cute'." However, she does not explain why Asians like cuteness and why the "cute" factor is the main reason behind Asians' fondness for Japanese pop culture. It is important to address this as there could be other attractions of Japanese pop culture that result in Asians' love for it. Also, she goes on to say that "Japan was the quickest to absorb and tweak influences from the West into something uniquely Japanese." However, she fails to explain why and she does not provide any proof to support her claim. Thus, the article does not convince me because of the lack of substantiation in Koh's arguments.

Despite the flaws in Koh's arguments, I agree with her view that "Asia is in love with Japan's pop culture." The internationalization of Japan's pop culture is aided by globalization, advancement in technology and the media. These mediums allow Asian countries to be exposed to Japan's way of life. Japanese pop culture appeals to Asians not only because it is cute, but also because the Japanese are known to be creative and leaders in setting new trends. For example, in the area of consumer electronic products, Japan came out with "Tamagotchi", a mini handheld game console that allows the young and old to adopt virtual pets. Products like this appeal because they are fun, lovable and allow people to explore the virtual world. Also, Koh makes a valid point that Asians can better associate themselves with Japan's pop culture because of "cultural identification". Asians share certain common values and way of life like kinship and respect for the older generations. This allows them to identify themselves with Japan cultures like films and movies. Hence, Asia is fond of Japan's pop culture.

In conclusion, I share similar thought as Koh on Asia's love for Japan's way of life. However, because of a lack of concrete evidences and generalizations on the popularity of Japan's culture among Asians which Koh makes, the arguments appear inaccurate and lack credibility. Koh gives various valid points like "cultural identification" and "cute Japanese pop culture" and provides many examples to support her claims. Unfortunately, certain claims are not well developed and supported by comprehensive evidences. Also, she makes sweeping statements that raise doubts about her arguments. Koh could better define certain terms like "Asia" to include only certain countries in her thesis and avoid generalizations so as to add credibility to her article. In addition, her points could be better developed by adding explanations and giving evidences to support them. Thus, Koh's argument is not convincing.