Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Nation Branding Creates an Opportunity for a New Cultural Narrative for Japan


What is the role of the 2020 Olympics in shaping the narrative for Japan's cultural and national identity? A cultural approach to nation branding targets a range of possible identities for Japan, shaping a narrative for the benefit of external and internal audiences (Kaneva, 2011). Building on the concept of nation branding being developed through the politics and economics of competitiveness, leading to a notion of competitive identity (Anholt, 2008), we explore how mega-event planning can reinforce positive cultural stereotypes and change negative cultural stereotypes. Redefining cultural identity driven by a mega-event such as hosting an Olympic Games or world sports tournament has been described in several case studies such as Florek (2008). This study highlights both positive characteristics of Japanese cultural behavior, as well as other cultural issues deserving further attention, to suggest a cultural identity which could contribute towards Japanese branding for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Specifically, this paper reviews how planning for the 2020 Olympic Games provides Japan with an opportunity to highlight positive characteristics of its culture relevant for overseas visitors such as its traditions, presentation, etiquette, work ethic, attention to detail, and reliability. To complement this, we also discuss how Abe government-led reform initiatives might provide a springboard for addressing other cultural issues such as women's societal and vocational roles, foreign language competency, more foreign representation in educational institutions and educational exchanges, which could benefit from redefining and internationalization.

Author Information
Maria Guajardo, Soka University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICJ2016
Stream: Japanese Culture and Media

This paper is part of the IICJ2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon