The Battle for Cuteness Supremacy
The dramatic new look for Japan’s diplomatic corps was unveiled by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, part of a plan to boost its soft power abroad with what it called “ambassadors of cute” (カワイイ大使/Kawaii Taishi).
In place of the traditional buttoned-down male bureaucrat, trailing the whiff of stale cigarettes and mild distress, the perfumed power trio of Misako Aoki, Yu Kimura and Shizuka Fujioka were wheeled out for the foreign press. Representing Japan’s Gothic Lolita (Misako Aoki), schoolgirl (Shizuka Fujioka) and gyaru (a youth fashion)(Yu Kimura) sub-cultures, the three pop envoys from Japan’s manga and animation world will be tested out at cultural festivals in Bangkok and Paris, said the ministry’s head of cultural affairs, Tsutomu Nakagawa.
Polka dots and miniskirts: how Japan wants world to see it, The Independent, David McNeill, 13 March 2009