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Japan to ‘export’ top Tokyo fashion districts

The Ginza shopping district in downtown Tokyo, Japan. — Afp picThe Ginza shopping district in downtown Tokyo, Japan. — Afp picTOKYO, April 1 — Japan plans to open overseas shopping areas named after well-known Tokyo fashion districts including Harajuku and Ginza as part of a cultural promotion push, officials said Monday. 

Japan’s economy ministry said it will host a “match-making” forum next month between major domestic retailers with outlets in foreign markets and smaller firms that sell everything from clothes and food to manga and anime, the wildly popular comics and cartoons that have attracted a global following. 

That move is aimed at the “export of whole fashion streets named after famous districts such as Harajuku,” a ministry spokesman told AFP. In October, more than a dozen Japanese apparel companies opened a mini-commercial hub called Harajuku Street Style in Singapore, amid efforts to kickstart the country’s disaster-struck economy. 

Harajuku is a trend-setting fashion district especially popular with young people while Ginza is a centre of upmarket fashions and luxury brands. 

The ministry has started the Cool Japan programme to expand the overseas market for Japanese pop culture, fashion and games to as much as ¥11.0 trillion (RM442 billion) annually by 2020. 

Overseas markets being targeted include China, South Korea, India, France and the United States. 

“Young people in Asia, the United States and some European nations really admire Japan’s design and fashion sense,” Yusuke Kawamura, senior counsellor at Daiwa Institute of Research, told the daily Yomiuri Shimbun. 

“Thus, the idea of exporting shopping areas to other countries is good. Clothes and other goods sold at small boutiques tend to be more popular than products from large brands.” 

But most smaller businesses do not have the capital or know-how to expand internationally, the ministry said, adding that so-called “creative industry” was key to kickstarting the country’s moribund economy. 

Japanese companies have been aggressively seeking mergers and acquisitions abroad in recent years, taking advantage of the yen’s strength to diversify their operations and make them globally competitive. 

Already struggling, the Japanese economy took a fresh beating last year after the country’s quake-tsunami disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis. — Afp-Relaxnews

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