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North Castle Books

Soft Power Superpowers: Cultural and National Assets of Japan and the United States
Edited by: Yasushi Watanabe; David L. McConnell

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-2248-8 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-2249-5
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USD: $94.95 USD: $44.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 328pp.
Publication Date: May 2008.  


Description: The term "soft power" describes a country's ability to get what it wants by attracting rather than coercing others--by engaging hearts and minds through cultural and political values and foreign policies that other countries see as legitimate and conducive to their own interests. The concept was introduced by Joseph Nye, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, who wrote the Foreword for this book.

The book analyzes the soft power assets of the United States and Japan, and how they contributed to one of the most successful, if unlikely, bilateral relationships of the twentieth century. Sponsored by the U.S. Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership, the book brings together anthropologists, political scientists, historians, economists, diplomats, and others to explore the multiple axes of soft power that operate in the U.S.-Japanese relationship, and between the United States and Japan and other regions of the world.

The contributors move beyond an "either-or" concept of hard versus soft power to a more dynamic interpretation, and demonstrate the important role of non-state actors in wielding soft power. They show how public diplomacy on both sides of the Pacific--bolstered by less formal influences such as popular cultural icons, product brands, martial arts, baseball, and educational exchanges--has led to a vibrant U.S.-Japanese relationship since World War II despite formidable challenges. Emphasiszing the essentially interactive nature of persuasion, the book highlights an approach to soft power that has many implications for the world today.

Selected Contents:

List of Tables and Figures
Foreword, Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Introduction, Watanabe Yasushi and David L. McConnell

Part I: Perception

1. Anti-Americanism in Japan, Watanabe Yasushi
2. Japan's Image Problem and the Soft Power Solution: The JET Program as Cultural Diplomacy, David L. McConnell

Part II: Higher Education

3. Higher Education as a Projection of America's Soft Power, Philip G. Altbach and Patti McGill Peterson
4. Facing Crisis: Soft Power and Japanese Education in a Global Context, Akiyoshi Yonezawa
5. Nurturing Soft Power: The Impact of Japan-U.S. University Exchanges, Ellen Mashiko and Miki Horie

Part III. Popular Culture

6. The Attractions of the J-Wave for American Youth, Anne Allison
7. Shared Memories: Japanese Pop Culture in China, Nakano Yoshiko
8. Japan's Creative Industries: Culture as a Source of Soft Power in the Industrial Sector, Sugiura Tsutomu
9. Baseball in U.S.-Japanese Relations: A Vehicle of Soft Power in Historical Perspective, Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu
10. American Pop Culture as Soft Power: Movies and Broadcasting, Matthew Fraser

Part IV: Public Diplomacy

11. Wielding Soft Power: The Key Stages of "Transmission" and "Reception," Seiichi Kondo
12. Official Soft Power in Practice: U.S. Public Diplomacy in Japan, William G. Crowell
13. Japan Does Soft Power: Strategy and Effectiveness of Its Public Diplomacy in the United States, Naoyuki Agawa

Part V: Civil Society

14. Mr. Madison in the Twenty-First Century: Global Diffusion of the People's "Right to Know," Lawrence Repeta
15.Soft Power of NGOs: Growing Influence Beyond National Boundaries, Katsuji Imata and Kaori Kuroda

About the Editors and Contributors

Comment(s): "A valuable contribution to the growing literature on the role of soft power in international relations. The essays provide rich analyses of different dimensions of American and Japanese soft power. The collection as a whole highlights the continuing asymmetries in US-Japan relations as well as the important areas of convergence." -- Mike Mochizuki, Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University

Review(s): "This book stands out because many of the contributors are not academics and they bring real-world experience to bear on the issues, using refreshingly jargon-free and straightforward language. Arguments are made in a factual manner with heavy use of statistics. This book's significance-indeed, usefulness-comes from how it implicitly raises a weighty methodological issue that all researchers, whether political scientists, economists, historians, anthropologists, or sociologists, need to seriously entertain: what is the nature of power and how should it be analyzed?" -- Journal of Japanese Studies

"Yasushi and McConnell edit an excellent book on the nature and kinds of "soft power" exercised by the US and Japan. ... This book is a very worthwhile 'rubber meets the road' approach to understanding the strengths and limits of soft power. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduate collections and up." -- Choice

"The editors' excellent introduction helps readers understand the debate about Nye's concept of soft power, addressing many misconceptions and criticisms. ... While this interesting book sheds a great deal of light on the globalization of Japanese culture, it demonstrates that Japan's soft power has limited potential." -- The Japan Times

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