Japan the titan of soft power is well recognized for its technological superiority, arts, aesthetics, and cuisines.
Japan once avoided spreading its culture around its neighborhood in the fear of reviving the old wounds but after Japan ignited its public diplomacy it projected far superior power which could overshadow its grim past.
Public diplomacy is conducted by appealing to foreign audiences specifically those who can project audience costs to the rulers and could threaten to remove them from power. So, they play a key role in the agreement processes between the two governments. The ability to intervene in foreign affairs generally depends upon the various type of regimes.
In the autocratic regimes, there is a smaller pool of audiences which are generally made by generals of the army, bureaucracies, and secret police but in democratic regimes, there is a larger pool of audiences such as opposition party, press, an independent judiciary, bureaucracies, interest groups and in addition these exiting leaders are in constant threat of being ousted in future elections.
There is a rise of democratic institutions and therefore is the rise of greater importance to public diplomacy.
The diplomatic practices are conducted to attract and appeal to the participant to hold a positive view. The creation of soft power is conducted through soft resources and these resources derive all its capacitance from five sense organs.
The effort of conducting diplomacy through sense organs include gastrodiplomacy appealing to nose and tongue, sports diplomacy that appeals to our muscles and external senses, digital diplomacy will discuss appealing to eyes and ears.
The paper further needs to investigate how these sense-based diplomacies could help provide achieve its national interest like the Japanese brands are perceived as desirable, trustworthy connecting to economic diplomacy, and ability to sign favorable agreements with less negative audiences.
Japan is loved for its unique and healthy cuisine like Sushi which is well celebrated with documentaries made upon it. In 2017,Japan has one of the highest Michelin three-star restaurants which generally makes it in the first spot and Tokyo holds 226 Michelin star restaurants making it the city with the greatest number of Michelin stars.
Gastrodiplomacy is connected by diplomatic etiquettes and endorphins which is produced in the body while eating that eases the mood. This action helps in gaining positive responses from the elite guest. The state banquets are a tool to enhance a country’s diplomacy utilizing all the five senses as it’s a complete package of all activities.
Gastrodiplomacy and sports diplomacy play a significant role as it does not hinder by linguistic barriers and provide an informal opportunity for leaders of various countries to meet.
Discussing the sports diplomacy, Judo was created in Japan in1882 and the first Olympics sport of Asian origin in 1964 which has allowed the Japanese to win 84 Olympics medals in Judo alone out of 498 medals won by Japan.
It’s estimated there are around 50 million Judo players in the world and players utilize Japanese vocabulary to learn judo. Many Judo coaches are Japanese citizens allowing Japan to make a profit by coaching foreign students.
Sports have also been cherished and loved with audio-visual tools around the world and Japan is loved for its technological advancement contributing to digital gaming and serving as a leader of digital diplomacy.
The visual arts are considered as effortless food to mind and Japan has been atthe pinnacle of innovating and advancing in this sector. Hokusai Manga(whimsical drawings) picture book was published in 1814 by Katsushika Hokusai this grew up to be loved in around the world. From 2005 onwards, the Japanese government even declared “Manga and Animation Diplomacy” and also provided “Japan Manga Award” for outstanding foreign animators.
Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Doraemon serves as a doorway to connect Japan with the rest of the world where Japan instead of spending money to maintain its national branding rather acquire money by the international sales of the merchandise making it even richer and generating revenue for a self-reliant model.
The greatest trust towards Japan is towards its technological innovation which allows Japanese products to be seen as advanced, durable, and efficient. The famous brands like Toyota, Honda, Canon, Sony are loved and used in around the world.
Japan makes anexport revenue of $713 billion out of which exporting cars alone make 14.4% with a trade value of $103 billion and 5.09% exports are made by vehicle parts with a trade value of $36.3 billion.
Japan imports iron ore from countries like Australia and China and sells them cars proving the magnificence of Japanese technological supremacy. Japan imports 119 million metric tons of ironwith a trade value of only $7.18 billion and manufactures far expensive goods from them.
Japan has such a high reputation that made the word Japan have an aroma of appeal to buyers allowing Japanese products to be easily exported due to its greater brand value.
Japan with its art, cuisine, cinematics, brands create such a strong appeal that it rarely attracts negative comments from audiences allowing international agreements to be done with Japan with little pressure.
There isthe prestigious Kyoto Protocol which gets associated with Japan, allowing Japan to be seen as a pioneer even in environmental conservation.
Japan is located in a cooler location which forces many states to store food for colder winter which may have contributed to building a strong saving culture while the cooler temperature is less prone to diseases such as Zika Virus and Ebola.
Japan being an archipelago has made it extremely difficult to invade Japan, specifically, the failure of Mongol invasion has helped Japan maintain its historic integrity in an era when many countries were completely transformed after the Mongolian invasion.
Japan maintained its unique culture and homogenous population as it can produce single literature that could educate all the Japanese population. This is a very unique phenomenon as most of the countries are very heterogeneous making Japan look exotic and appealing in contrast to any country.
Restaurants, heritage sites, concerts all combine and directly help in boosting tourism allowing a revenue of $45 billion. Japan is considered an expensive country to visit but this allows Japan to have more elite tourists visiting Japan.
Japan even with mineral constraints have been able to achieve one of the greatest heights in technology, art, and innovation. The concept of soft-power is driven by soft resources and Japan has an overwhelming amount of soft resources which has allowed Japan to be loved and be seen as the land of the rising sun.
Biden-Putting meeting: Live from Geneva
19:00 The places of the flags on the Mont Blanc bridge on which President Biden and President Putin will pass to reach the meeting venue on Wednesday usually hold the flags of the different Swiss cantons. Not today. The American and Russian flags have been placed to welcome the two leaders.
18:00 A day before the Geneva summit: Hotel Intercontinental where the American delegation and probably President Biden himself is staying, how the city looks like a day before the meeting, what are the security measures like, why isn’t the UN involved and are the usual protests expected?
Iveta Cherneva with live video political commentary from Geneva one day ahead of the Biden-Putin Summit
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
In recent years, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, have been trying to bolster their ‘Soft Power’ in a number of ways; by promoting tourism, tweaking their immigration policies to attract more professionals and foreign students and focusing on promoting art and culture. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken the lead in this direction (in May 2017, UAE government set up a UAE Soft Power Council which came up with a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of the country’s Soft Power). Under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia has also been seeking to change its international image, and it’s Vision 2030 seeks to look beyond focusing on economic growth. In the Global Soft Power Index 2021, Saudi Arabia was ranked at number 24 and number 2 in the Gulf region after the UAE (the country which in the past had a reputation for being socially conservative, has hosted women’s sports events and also hosted the G20 virtually last year)
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
One other important step in the direction of promoting Soft Power in the GCC, is the attempt to popularize cricket in the Gulf. While the Sharjah cricket ground (UAE) hosted many ODI (One Day International )tournaments, and was witness to a number of thrillers between India and Pakistan, match fixing allegations led to a ban on India playing cricket at non-regular venues for a duration of 3 years (for a period of 7 years from 2003, Sharjah did not get to host any ODI). The Pakistan cricket team has been playing its international home series at Sharjah, Abu Dhabu and Dubai for over a decade (since 2009) and the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League is also being played in UAE. Sharjah has also hosted 9 test matches (the first of which was played in 2002).
Sharjah hosted part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament in 2014, and last year too the tournament was shifted to UAE due to covid19 (apart from Sharjah, matches were played at Dubai and Abu Dhabi). This year again, the UAE and possibly Oman are likely to host the remaining matches of the IPL which had to be cancelled due to the second wave of Covid19. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held later this year (October-November 2021), which was actually to be hosted by India, could also be hosted not just in the UAE, but Oman as well (there are two grounds, one of them has floodlights). International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking for an additional venue to UAE, because a lot of cricket is being played there, and this may impact the pitches. The ICC while commenting on the possibility of the T20 World cup being hosted in the Middle East said:
, “The ICC Board has requested management [to] focus its planning efforts for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on the event being staged in the UAE with the possibility of including another venue in the Middle East’
GCC countries are keen not just to host cricketing tournaments, but also to increase interest in the game. While Oman has a team managed by an Indian businessman, Saudi Arabia has set up the SACF (Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation) in 2020 and it has started the National Cricket Championship which will have more than 7,000 players and 36 teams at the school level. Peshawar Zalmi, a Pakistani franchise T20 cricket team, representing the city of Peshawar the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which plays in the Pakistan’s domestic T20 cricket league – the Peshawar cricket league — extended an invitation to the SACF, to play a friendly match against it. It’s owner Javed Afridi had extended the invitation to the Saudi Arabian team in April 2021. Only recently, Chairman of SACF Prince Saud bin Mishal met with India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr Ausaf Saeed, to discuss ways for promoting the game in Saudi Arabia. He also visited the ICC headquarters at Dubai and apart from meeting officials of ICC also took a tour of Sharjah cricket ground.
GCC countries have a number of advantages over other potential neutral venues. First, the required infrastructure is already in place in some countries, and there is no paucity of financial resources which is very important. Second, there is a growing interest in the game in the region, and one of the important factors for this is the sizeable South Asian expat population. Third, a number of former cricketers from South Asia are not only coaching cricket teams, but also being roped in to create more enthusiasm with regard to the game. Fourth, UAE along with other GCC countries, could also emerge as an important venue for the resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties.
In conclusion, if GCC countries other than UAE — like Saudi Arabia and Oman — can emerge as important cricketing venues, their ‘Soft Power’ appeal is likely to further get strengthened especially vis-à-vis South Asia. South Asian expats, who have contributed immensely to the economic growth of the region, and former South Asian cricketers will have an important role to play in popularizing the game in the Gulf. Cricket which is already an important component of the GCC — South Asia relationship, could help in further strengthening people to people linkages.
Analyzing the role of OIC
Composed of fifty-seven countries and spread over four continents, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is the second-largest intergovernmental body following the United Nations (UN). And it is no secret that the council was established in the wake of an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Safeguarding and defending the national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of its member states is the significant provision of the OIC’s charter. OIC charter also undertakes to strengthen the bond of unity and solidarity among member states. Uplifting Islamic values, practicing cooperation in every sphere among its members, contributing to international peace, protecting the Islamic sites, and assisting suppressed Muslim community are other significant features of its charter.
Recently, the world witnessed the 11-days long conflict between Hamas and Israel. In a recent episode of the clash between two parties, Israel carried out airstrikes on Gaza, claiming many innocent Palestinian lives. The overall death toll in the territory rose to 200, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1305 injured, says Hamas-run health ministry. This event was met with resentment from people across the world, and they condemned Israeli violence. After 11 days of violence, the Israeli government and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. The event of Israeli violence on Palestinians has called the role of OIC into question. The council, formed in the aftermath of the onslaught on Al-Aqsa mosque, seemed to adopt a lip service approach to the conflict. However, the call for stringent measures against Israeli aggression by the bloc was not part of its action.
Likewise, the Kashmir issue, which has witnessed atrocities of Indians on innocent Kashmiris, looks up to the OIC for its resolution. Last year, during the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Niamey, Niger, the CFM reaffirmed its strong support for the Kashmir cause. The OIC categorically rejected illegal and unilateral actions taken by India on August 5 to change the internationally recognized disputed status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and demanded India rescind its illegal steps. However, the global community seems to pay deaf ears to the OIC’s resolution. The Kashmir issue and the Palestine issue are the core issues of the world that are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis. And the charter of the bloc that aims to guard the Muslim ummah’s interest rings hollow. About a year ago, the event that made rounds on electronic and social media was the occurring of the KL summit, which reflected another inaction of the OIC. The move of influential Muslim countries (Iran, Turkey, and Indonesia), to sail on the idea to establish another forum to counter the OIC, manifested the rift in the bloc.
Many OIC countries are underdeveloped and poorly governed and are home to instability, violence, and terrorism. The consequences of the violence and terrorism in the OIC countries have been devastating. According to Forbes, 7 out of 10 countries, which suffer most from terrorism are OIC members. The Syrian conflict is another matter of concern in the Mideast, looking up to OIC for a way out. An immense number of people have lost their lives in the Civil war in Syria.
Several factors contribute to the inefficiency of the bloc. The first and foremost reason is the Saudi-Iran stalemate. Influential regional powers (Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in the Mideast share strained links following the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Both sides dissent each other on many fronts. Saudi Arabia accuses Tehran of interfering in its internal affairs, using terrorism as a tool to intimidate neighbors, fuelling sectarianism, and equipping proxies to de-stabilize and overthrow the legitimate government. Locked in a proxy war in the Mideast, the KSA and Iran vie for regional dominance. Moreover, Iran’s nuclear program is met with strong resentment in the KSA since it shifts the Balance of Power towards Iran. Such developments play a vibrant role in their stalemate, and the bloc’s effectiveness is hostage to the Saudi-Iran standoff.
Political and social exclusion in many OIC states is the norm of the day, contributing to upheaval and conflict. In OIC countries, the level of political participation and political and social integration is weak. This fact has rendered OIC countries vulnerable to unrest. Arab Spring in 2011 stands as the best example. Furthermore, conflicts, since the mid-1990s, have occurred in weak states that have encountered unrest frequently.
Saudi Arabia has tightened its grip on the OIC. The reason being, the OIC secretariat and its subsidiary bodies are in the KSA. More importantly, the KSA’s prolific funding to the bloc enhances its influence on the bloc. One example includes, in the past, the KSA barred an Iranian delegation from the OIC meeting in Jeddah. Saudi authorities have not issued visas for the Iranian participants, ministry spokesman, says Abbas Mousavi. “The government of Saudi Arabia has prevented the participation of the Iranian delegation in the meeting to examine the deal of the century plan at the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Mousavi said, the Fars news agency reported. Given the Iranian growing influence and its access to nuclear capabilities, the KSA resorted to using financial leverage to reap support from Arab countries against Iran. For instance, in past, Somalia and several other Arab states such as Sudan and Bahrain received a commitment of financial aid from Saudi Arabia on the same day they cut ties with Iran. Furthermore, the summits of OIC, GCC, and Arab League are perceived as an effort by Saudi Arabia to amass support against Tehran.
Division in the Muslim world and their clash of interests is yet another rationale behind its inefficacy. These days, many Muslim countries are bent on pursuing their interests rather than paying commitment to their principles, that is, working collectively for the upkeep of the Muslim community. Last year, the governments of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that they had agreed to the full normalization of relations. Following this, the Kingdom of Bahrain became another Muslim country to normalize its links with Israel. Such moves by the Islamic countries weaken the OIC agenda against Israel.
OIC’s efficacy would be a distant dream unless the Saudi-Iran deadlock finds its way. For this purpose, Pakistan can play a vital role in mediating between these two powers. Pakistan has always been an active player in the OIC and played its role in raising its voice against Islamophobia, Palestine Issue, and the Kashmir issue. Shunning their interests and finding the common goals of the Muslim ummah, should be the utmost priority for the members of the bloc. Every OIC member ought to play its part in the upkeep of the bloc. Furthermore, a split in the bloc should come to an end since it leads to the polarization of member states towards regional powers. Many OIC countries are rich in hydrocarbons (a priceless wealth, which is the driver for the growth of a country); if all OIC members join hands and enhance their partnership in this sphere they can fight against energy security. And OIC is the crux for magnifying cooperation among its member states to meet their energy needs.
In this era of globalization, multilateralism plays a pivotal part. No one can deny the significance of intergovernmental organizations since they serve countries in numerous ways. In the same vein, OIC can serve Muslim ummah in multiple ways; if it follows a course of adequate functioning.
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