Last Updated 03 Mar 2020

Cultural Globalisation Through Japanese Culture

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Cultural globalization is the rapid traversing of ideas, foreign influences, technologies, spread of language, markets and values across national borders. It not only increases freedom of choice, but also revitalizes cultures and cultural artifacts through interconnectedness and interaction between peoples of diverse cultures and ways of life. In the article “Japanese Popular Culture” by Nissim Otmazgin explores the dissemination of Japanese culture products throughout East and Southeast Asia by various modes and analyses the expansion of popular culture through Steger readings.

Does globalization make people around the world sameness or differences in global culture? One effect is that it promotes greater cultural homogeneity. Sometimes common demands, common consumer preferences, and large bodies of common information can lead to the blending of cultures and the erosion of cultural differences. It is a myth that globalization involves the imposition of cultural uniformity, rather than an explosion of cultural exchange. But, cross-cultural exchange can spread greater diversity as well as greater similarity.

People everywhere have more choice, but they often choose similar things. For instance, Amazonian Indians wearing Nike shoes, denizens of Southern Sahara purchase Yankees baseball caps, Palestinian youths displays Chicago Bulls sweatshirts in Ramallah and eating fast-foods at Mc Donald’s ( Steger, 73) shows thriving of American products in a large scale. These worries cultural pessimists as well as optimistic hyperglobalizers that “the rise of an increasingly homogenized popular culture under Western culture industry” ( Steger, 72).

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It seems that local cultures and national identities are dissolving into a crass of American consumerism. That cultural imperialism is said to impose American values as well as products, promote the commercial at the expense of business profits, and substitute superficial pleasure for deeper satisfaction. People’s culture in the sense of their shared ideas, beliefs, knowledge, inherited traditions and art may hardly be eroded by mere commercial artifacts. The profound cultural changes have little to do with Western ideas.

Sociologist Roland Robertson points out that “global cultural flows reinvigorate local cultural niches” (Steger, 77) resulting ‘cultural hybridity’ increases diversity within societies – but at the expense of making them more alike. It is noted from the article that the introduction of Japanese culture in East and Southeast Asia in an unprecedented scale is due to “Asian fragrance” which resonates with the local consumers (Otmazgin, 2). For example, Japanese television dramas and animations - Hello Kitty, Ampan Man and Poke’ mon are seen everywhere in the Asian city.

In this way, Japanese popular culture is gradually adapted and incorporated into local popular culture through translation. Iwao Sumiko concludes that “Japanese popular culture products represent ‘modern’ ideas that consumers strategically choose” (Otmazgin, 3). This believes that globalization is not “globalizing” western culture and western cultural icons. Therefore, Asian people no longer consume “the West”, but rather a Japanese–indigenized or hybridized product (Otmazgin, 3); reinforcing the concept of local as mediated of ‘global culture’ and foreign influences as mediator to ‘global culture’.

Does globalization make national identity in global culture extinct? It’s hardly. Individual choice is fragmenting the imposed uniformity of national cultures. New hybrid cultures are emerging, and regional ones re-emerging. National identity is not disappearing, but the bonds of nationality are loosening and “they continually shape and reshape cultural scenes and lifestyles” (Otmazgin, 8). By and large, people choose the new ways because they are more relevant to their needs and new opportunities. Let’s consider an example of interpenetration of cultures from music, television and language products.

In television, MTV in Asia promotes Thai pop stars and play rock music of various artists and bands from different countries that are sung in Mandarin. “The television and music production favors localizing content and broadcasting in Asian languages, creating new cultural genres and introducing local as well as international pop music to its audiences” (Otmazgin, 10). Countries like Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai watch Japanese, Korean and Chinese dramas, read cosmic books and animation series that are translated or in the original language.

If these individual people choose to watch different cultural products that doesn’t mean they lose their collective national identity. These cultural forces can rapidly become domesticated, changing national and socio cultural styles, but not destroying it. Another example around the globe: English language. Language is often at the heart of national culture and a common global language would certainly be a big plus. English is considered as “internationalization” comp atible with diverse languages.

Since not all languages use the same alphabet, one goal is to get a standard based. Because of English, many other languages are becoming extinct is not true. Nowadays, the internet has given all its users the ability to speak and write to people from vastly different cultures and languages. Therefore, globalization promotes true ‘global community’ that supersedes the concept of state or country, and language become ‘glocalized’ as well as more diversified so as to cater to different tastes.

Likewise, the growth of a music industry, under exposure to foreign influences, has not led to the extinction of regional music, for instance the lyrics are in Japanese and the music follows Western pop/rock standards. The upshot of all this change is that national cultures are fragmenting into a kaleidoscope of different ones. New hybrid cultures are emerging. Regional cultures are reviving. Individuals are forming new communities, linked by shared interests and passions that cut across national borders emphasis on universal homogenization.

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