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Japan projects “cute power” abroad

Peter Feaver says the United States is losing to Europe in the soft power battle. But when it comes to commitment to cute power, nobody tops the Japanese. After last years appointment of a giant blue robot cat as “anime ambassador,” Japan is expanding its corps of adorable envoys: In a bid to raise its ...

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Two young women dressed up as popular characters pose outside the entrance to the two-day "Comic World Hong Kong" held at the HITEC building in Hong Kong on February 1, 2009. Hong Kong's comic fair, held twice a year, is a platform for lovers of mostly Japanese "manga" comics, films or "anime" and video games to dress up in full regalia, widely known as "cosplay", or costume play, forming a popular subculture centered on the characters. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD A. BROOKS (Photo credit should read RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Peter Feaver says the United States is losing to Europe in the soft power battle. But when it comes to commitment to cute power, nobody tops the Japanese.

After last years appointment of a giant blue robot cat as “anime ambassador,” Japan is expanding its corps of adorable envoys:

In a bid to raise its international profile, Tokyo has appointed three young women as cultural envoys because they represent Japan’s long-running craze for all things cute.

Inspired by the characters in Japan’s distinctive “anime” animated films and “manga” cartoon books, one of the new ambassadors dresses as a schoolgirl, another as a Victorian doll in voluminous frilly skirts.

The third of the women, presented at a news conference on Thursday, was a singer dressed in a polka dot shirt with a bunny print, offset by bouffant back-combed hair, a look that has made her a fashion leader in Tokyo teens’ favorite haunt, Harajuku.

Japan wants to exploit the popularity of the “kawaii” (cute) culture, which has influenced young people in Asia and Europe.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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