The (Soft) Power of Cultural Diplomacy

The Wall Street Journal reports on Japan's investment in translating Japanese books into English. As Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko observes,

“Japan is among the top nations in the world in terms of books published, but unfortunately, they’re just published in Japanese. If they were known around the world, there are a lot of books that people would find really interesting.”

The Japan Library aims to have 100 works translated by 2020, the year Tokyo plays host to the Olympics Games.  These efforts are laudable, of course, as a canny response to Chinese and South Korean attempts to sway global public opinion through culture.  That said, the government's goal simply underscores how voracious a translator culture Japan is: 4,700 works were translated into Japanese in 2012.