Soft power: Media influence and its limits

Cherian George*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of “soft power,” developed within the field of international relations, has been adopted by numerous communication scholars as a way to explain how a country’s cultural products can increase its overall attractiveness and thus its influence on the world stage. Many governments have embraced this idea within their efforts at “public diplomacy,” which refers to communication directed at foreign publics as opposed to fellow governments. Both in theory and practice, though, the idea of soft power has been contested. Critics argue, for example, that so-called soft power is only effective when backed by hard military and economic carrots and sticks. To get an idea of how soft power is viewed in the world of diplomacy, Media Asia editor Cherian George interviewed Seiichi Kondo, a former ambassador who was at the forefront of Japan’s public diplomacy for several years. Japan’s national brand has been enhanced by its popular cultural products, consumer electronics, and cuisine. Recognizing the value of these assets, the government has invested in the “Cool Japan” brand. In this interview, however, Kondo argues that popular culture can only be a first step toward the ultimate goal of encouraging foreigners to engage more deeply with Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalMedia Asia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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