As Ishihara’s campaign to host the 2016 Olympics heats up, the lingering influence of British “cool Britannia” policies – particularly the spectacular success story of London as an ascendant “global hub” from 1995–2008 – continues to guide Japanese thinking on how it too can harness the political, economic and cultural potential of its own widely admired “creative economy”. Using a systematic comparative approach that draws on a variety of historical, documentary and quantitative sources, I assess the trajectory of Tokyo as a creative economy in the post-bubble era in the light of the three key conditions – structural economic change, global location, and intra-regional mobility – that led to London’s startling success. While London’s creative dynamism is often argued to suggest the coupling of economic and cultural development, according to urban policy gurus such as Richard Florida or Charles Landry, Tokyo’s is often presented as counter-cyclical: associated with a certain romance about creativity in periods of urban decline, crisis or decadence, and the generational and gendered change this heralded after the economic collapse of 1991 and shocks of 1995. So where do the sources of “cool Japan” lie, and how far can the parallel history of the “Brit-pop” boom in fashion, music, art and architecture be used as a guide?
ADRIAN FAVELL is the author of numerous works on multiculturalism, migration, globalisation and cities, including: Philosophies of Integration (1998), The Human Face of Global Mobility (2006, with Michael Peter Smith); and Eurostars and Eurocities (2008). In 2007, he was an SSRC/Japan Foundation Abe Fellow at Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and is currently writing a book about Japanese contemporary art and society since the 1990s. For further details, see: www.adrianfavell.com