Peace Picture Books

Something stood out to me from Kazuo Ogoura’s rich and concise article “From Ikebana to Manga and Beyond: Japan’s Cultural and Public Diplomacy is Evolving” which I did not expect: the idea of the “Kashmir Peace Picture Books”. While this particular project was a peacebuilding effort focused on India and Pakistan, in a broader strategy aimed at diffusing the negative effect on the perception of Japan due to its involvement in Iraq; I wonder if it could be combined with another of the PD motivators described by Ogoura: “the desire to change Japan’s own perception of itself”.

Moreover, could this strategy combination be used by the US to work on peacebuilding/acknowledging and working on issues at home while simultaneously being positive cultural diplomacy? I have in mind the “Books By Teens” project by Reach Incorporated, which addresses racial inequality in the US and specifically the disturbing fact that “Only 3% of children’s books feature characters of color, and only 1.8% of children’s books are written by authors of color” (http://www.reachincorporated.org/books/). What do you think the effect of promoting this abroad and having it feedback to the domestic public would be?

Two things would be interesting to find out: firstly, if the International Center for Literacy and Culture, (which the Japan foundation funded to organize the Kashmir Peace Picture Books project), has any kind of measurement of the impact of this project; and secondly, was the project communicated to the population back in Japan, and if not, why not? This could have contributed to “Internal Internationalization” concept, which, from the list of strategies summarized by Ogoura, is obviously one of the most difficult to evaluate from a foreign perspective; but any effectiveness measurement of which would be most interesting to find out more about.

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