by Noriyuki Morimoto
Cool Japan is to create additional values unique to Japan. In the global economy, Japan has to be Cool Japan. In the same way, in the Japanese economy, domestic regions have to create authentic values to become Cool Regions. Vitalization of regions is to make them cool.
Wherever you go in Japan, stores and signs of the same retail and restaurant chains and identical ready-made houses line up alongside new, straight roads. This landscape is forming alongside desolate districts with narrow, winding roads and historical towns. It is not cool at all. Moreover, celebrating the opening of factories of major companies and mourning over their closure is an attitude that represents of the subordinate position of regions. It is not cool at all, either.
Meanwhile, strong local characteristics are nowadays just a remainder of history. Even if they give people a sense of nostalgia, the potential for economic growth cannot be seen. Therefore, the fantasy of the old-time countryside is not cool, either.
Cool Japan cannot be the extension of ”Fujiyama, sukiyaki, geisha” images. It cannot be a trivialized, distorted fantasy of Japan only appreciated by antique collectors and Japanophiles. Similarly, Cool Regions cannot mean the nostalgic feel of rural areas.
It’s not that traditional pottery is cool: what’s cool is the advanced ceramics technology that evolved from the long history of pottery in Japan. It’s not that Ukiyo-e prints are cool: what’s cool is what evolved from its unique method of expression, like manga and art works of Takashi Murakami.
It’s not that traditional features of local regions are cool: we have to go beyond them to create cool, new things. That’s what it means to revitalize regions. So then, regional vitalization will no longer involve mascot characters, theme parks, roads, airports, factories of big companies, sports centers, or public halls. It would no longer involve local produce, hot springs, or reconstruction of castles. Because none of them have creative aspects, and they are not cool at all.
Cool has to be the creation of value.
Chief Executive Officer, HC Asset Management Co.,Ltd. Noriyuki Morimoto founded HC Asset Management in November 2002. As a pioneer investment consultant in Japan, he established the investment consulting business of Watson Wyatt K.K. (now Willis Towers Watson) in 1990.