Tag Archives: public diplomacy

Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding in Japan

I found an interesting article in the Japan Times’ Opinion Section entitled “Japan’s ‘brand’ as good as the people behind it.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/10/10/commentary/japans-brand-as-good-as-the-people-behind-it/#.U0LQcm5s7HQ. In this article, Nancy Snow explains the importance of Japanese public diplomacy and nation branding, particularly in light of the 2020 Olympics which will be held in Tokyo. She talks about the establishment of the Japan Brand Fund, which was created with the goal of enhancing and promoting Japan’s unique cultural specificities by funding Japanese business opportunities overseas. Snow stresses the importance of PD efforts at the individual, people-to-people level, in both the formal and informal spectra. Specifically, Snow argues that in this day and age, it is crucial to include and take into account the prevalence of social media as tools for diplomacy.

According to the Ogawa article, the notion of public diplomacy in Japan has in recent years developed and expanded significantly, and has been utilized “as a tool for strategies of diplomacy, cultural promotion, trade, tourism and urban planning” (p. 270). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Japan Foundation are tasked with furthering Japan’s diplomacy programs and endeavors; specifically, promoting Japanese culture and values abroad, as well as the Japanese language and studies, people-to-people exchanges, and the strengthening of foreign relations (p. 270-271). Ogawa states that MOFA had historically separated the realms of culture and PR; however, with the various reforms that were put in place in 2004, they are now treated concurrently, and culture has become a more intrinsic part of Japan’s diplomacy programs.

This highlights an important point in the Ogoura article, which is that Japanese society has undergone multiple and continuing transformations in recent decades and this has undeniably affected its role on the global scale.  Therefore, Ogoura maintains that Japan’s PD efforts are closely related to its cultural diplomacy since its image abroad is often linked to “Japan’s own culture or national identity.”

Finally, Ogawa’s article reveals an interesting dynamic of Japanese public diplomacy: its strategies for engagement and the furthering of relations with the Middle East. Ogawa explains that the main goal of Japan’s PD efforts in the region is to differentiate itself from Western diplomacy efforts there, and to encourage “intellectual exchange; support for cultural promotion in the Middle East; and promotion of better understanding of the Middle East among the Japanese” (p 280).

Buying Hearts and Minds?

This week I came across an interesting article by Professor Philip Selb for the Huffington Post. The article discusses the power of economy in public diplomacy and specifically various economic initiatives conducted by the US in the Middle East and their public diplomacy value.

Selb’s argument states that there is no better way for winning hearts and minds than “buying hearts and minds”. Selb is convinced that successful public diplomacy is based on fulfilling the needs of various foreign audiences and therefore developing a positive attitude towards the donating country. Specifically in the Middle East, various initiatives that provide jobs have proved to be extremely successful in creating stability and establishing partnerships with foreign publics.

This is an interesting perspective on how to craft public diplomacy. Creative initiatives could be born by mapping the needs of various societies and looking at the competitive advantage of a specific country with regards to those needs. Relevant organizations or governmental agencies within the ‘giving’ country can then address these needs through initiatives that provide jobs, healthcare, agricultural assistance, etc. The ‘giving countries’ can benefit not only from positive PD outcomes such as good image, stability and favorable public opinion among foreign audiences, but also from clear economic benefits of new partnerships and networks.

I might be wrong but I sense that today we have a certain ‘pool’ of public diplomacy activities such as academic exchanges, informational tours, exhibitions, etc. and the new initiatives are created within that pool.  As discussed in class, China’s investment in Africa is somewhat different and serves as a good example of Selb’s suggestion. The “needs paradigm” could be an interesting shift in the way foreign ministries and organizations begin their thinking about public diplomacy.

 

 

 

 

UN Launches New Campaign Targeting American Audience

This week I stumbled upon an new campaign effort by the United Nations- The Better World Campaign. Interestingly, it seems to reflect the exact suggestions made by O.C. del Collado (2013) on the CPD blog, which we have discussed during week 7.

Just a quick reminder- Collado argued that: “A less interested American public makes some U.N. agencies more vulnerable to Congressional budget cuts.”  Collado pointed out to the lack of public diplomacy efforts on the side of the United Nations, leading the organization to unstable financial position and decreasing legitimacy and centrality. Since the US remains the most significant financial contributor to the UN system, Collado suggested that it has to target American audiences by putting an emphasis on issues that have direct impact on Americans. Only than will the American public raise its voice in favor of UN funding and prevent Congress from further financial cuts of its support.

And just as someone in the UN read Collado’s post, the Better World Campaign is “Dedicated to a Strong US-UN Relationship”. The campaign is focused on US’ funding of the UN peacekeeping,  pledging American citizens to force the Congress into supporting President’s Obama budget request for funding the organisation’s peacekeeping missions in several African countries. The bottom line of the campaign states: “Sending UN peacekeepers to fulfill these dangerous missions – the missions we’ve asked for – is one-eighth the cost of the U.S. going it alone.”  In times of growing unpopularity of direct military  interventions among the American public, this seems like a brilliant message.

Of course we shall wait and see if Americans are convinced. But whether this move was really inspired by Collado’s blog or not, it sure should encourage people to offer policy solutions via blogging!

Missing MH370 and the Losing of Malaysia Public Image

Department of Civil Aviation Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman briefing reporters last week in Sepang, Malaysia Photograph by Daniel Chan/AP Photo
Department of Civil Aviation Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman briefing reporters last week in Sepang, Malaysia Photograph by Daniel Chan/AP Photo

The Malaysian government’s handling of the disappearance of Malaysia Airline Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, has been criticized by many, including China, who have demanded that it be more transparent in managing the search operations, which entered its eleventh day Tuesday.

Over the past ten days, especially the first few days, the Vietnam searching team was the one always finding “new clues”, while the Malaysia government denying consistently. Therefore, time came to the eleventh day, the only thing we sure about was the plane gone missing, and nothing else.

The Malaysian government probably has done more over the past week to undermine the international image of Malaysia than anyone in the country’s nearly 60 years as an independent nation. For most of those six decades, until the disappearance of the Flight 370, the country received little international attention. If Malaysia made the news at all, it tended to get relatively favorable notice as a peaceful, multiethnic nation that had enjoyed some of the strongest economic growth in Asia. The government capitalized on this image as a welcoming and wealthy nation with an effective tourism campaign, launched in the late 1990s, called “Malaysia Truly Asia.” This campaign helped make Malaysia a leading destination.

The 10-day period since the mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 has seen the Malaysian government present to the world a concoction of false leads and conflicting answers, alongside seemingly evasive behavior. Nearly a week after the start of a multinational search off the waters off Malaysia’s east coast, the government revealed it had data suggesting the plane had flown in the other direction. Malaysia also released conflicting stories of when the plane’s communication with the ground was turned off, who turned it off, vague information as to who might be a suspect, and uncertain details about evidence collected.

Massive efforts have been put into this global search and rescue, until today, participatory country has risen to 26 which covers nearly half of the globe. While everyone is watching Malaysia, it is the time to challenge this country’s public diplomacy, since the dissatisfaction for the other side of the world is definitely detrimental to this country’s development.

Giving the Power Back to Governments? The Essence of Transformational Public Diplomacy.

Copeland (2009) advocates for the need to restructure the Foreign Service and integrate the classic diplomacy with the public diplomacy dimension in order to better serve purposes of development, security and long-term strategic relationships between states. Interestingly, to me it seems like a call for utilizing public diplomacy to give decision-makers the power they have lost with the rise of globalization and public diplomacy.

I think that the diplomatic efforts in Syria and Iran are a good example of growing unpopularity of war and an increased focus on diplomatic dialog. It seems that the framework of the talks tried to bond together issues of development in these countries with security concerns on the other side, just as suggested by Copeland. However these efforts do not fall under the framework of public diplomacy, rather it’s simply a new age where dialog is preferred to war (because of undesired financial and social consequences of warfare). The governments and not the people are still the ones managing this dialog. Moreover for now these efforts did not produce particularly positive outcomes.

Also, issues concerning security and development require vast financial resources and a high degree of cooperation on behalf of regulatory agencies. This can hardly be achieved by PD. Advocacy and networking are very important in the process but the essential decisions still go back to the governmental level. The root causes of underdevelopment and inequality remain historical governmental policies that can be changed mainly at the higher rank of decision-making and not by diplomats becoming better at networking with local populations.

So from my perspective it seems that the concept of transformational public diplomacy is essentially about using advocacy to empower governments to take actions on issues of development and security. Until now PD was mainly used to promote a rather shallow dialog between populations, focusing on softer issues. TPD is trying to make PD relevant to the more crucial decision-making, but still, between governments.

International Student Exchanges and Diplomacy

For this week’s blogging assignment, I have decided to delve into the realm of international education and exchanges, and how they relate to public and cultural diplomacy. Not only am I going to be studying educational exchanges as part of my group project this semester, but I also feel a personal connection to the topic, as I spent close to seven months interning for NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The New York Times posted an article entitled “Helping Foreign Students Thrive on U.S. Campuses” a couple of days ago which deals with the shift that has occurred with respect to foreign students studying in the United States (Fischer, K. (2014). Helping Foreign Students Thrive on U.S. Campuses. New York Times: Americas: International Education. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/03/world/americas/helping-foreign-students-thrive-on-us-campuses.html?hpw&rref=education&_r=0).  Fischer explains that the emphasis has gone from recruiting international students to focusing on the actual needs and experiences of the students while they are studying in the U.S.

Fischer argues that there is not a lot of information or studies available that delve into international student retention and fulfillment. However, she cites that this is slowly changing, and reveals the results of a recent study conducted by Mr. C.K. Kwai, director of international programs at the University of Maine at Orono. One of the interesting elements Mr. Kwai found in his study was that on-campus employment usually led to higher retention rates, which implies that international students may feel more invested and integrated within the university by working on its campus.

Fischer states that NAFSA is currently partnering with World Education Services (both are nonprofit international education organizations) in order to conduct a nationwide study on the factors which are associated with the retention of foreign students and the success of their study abroad experiences. The results will be released at some point this year, and I look forward to reading the study and seeing what they have found on the subject.

Fischer also claims that most universities are not equipped or properly trained to address the needs of international students once they actually arrive and begin studying at their institution. It is extremely important that the needs and wants of the international students be met. David L. Di Maria, director of international programs and services at Kent State University, rightfully stated that “The best recruitment strategy is a good retention strategy” (Fischer).

International education exchanges have become increasingly important in today’s globalized and interdependent arena. From the theoretical knowledge I have gained from taking cross-cultural communication classes here at AU, as well as with my firsthand experience interning for NAFSA, I strongly believe that international education is an intrinsic part of cultural and public diplomacy, and should be treated as such.

Richard T. Arndt states that cultural diplomacy begins “[…] when a nation-state steps in and tries to manage, to whatever extent it can, this natural two-way cultural flow so as better to advance national interests, preferably on both sides of borders” (Arndt, R.T. (2010). The Hush-Hush Debate: The Cultural Foundations of U.S. Public Diplomacy.org. Retrieved from Blackboard). One way to achieve this type of cultural exchange and collaboration is by pursuing international educational exchanges. This can help promote respect, understanding and communication among citizens from different national and cultural backgrounds – which in my opinion is an important component of diplomacy itself.

Nick Cull explains that cultural diplomacy is a form of public diplomacy, “[…] one method by which an international actor may conduct its foreign policy through engaging in a foreign public” (Cull, N. (2010). Jamming for Uncle Sam: Getting the Best From Cultural Diplomacy. Huffington Post: Arts & Culture. Retrieved from Blackboard). As I mentioned in class when I was leading the discussion on Pamments’ “Perspectives on the new public diplomacy,” cultural diplomacy can be distinguished from public diplomacy for many reasons, one of which is that, as Cull reiterates, cultural diplomacy has more long-term goals and endeavors.

As a final thought, one of my tasks at NAFSA was to listen to webinars on various issues related to international education, and verify that there were no typos in any written courses or textbooks. One of the webinars I found most interesting was on Chinese students in the United States, and how to integrate them within the university, both academically and culturally. This is a topic I’m extremely interested in, and one I look forward to learning more about as I pursue a career in diplomacy.

 

Offering Direct Legal Benefits to a Country’s Citizens as a New PD Strategy?

Is it possible that some governments came to a conclusion that granting citizens of other countries special benefits is a good technique for winning hearts and minds? It sure looks like it in two news pieces that drew my attention this week- Germany and Russia.

This week Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived with an official visit to Israel. The biggest headline of this visit was a signing of two very progressive agreements- one gaining young Israeli citizens an automatic provision of temporary working permits when visiting Germany and the other offering Israeli citizens consular services through German embassies in countries with which Israel doesn’t have diplomatic relations (unfortunately there are quite a few). Though officially marketed as a mutual progressive agreement between the two governments, to me it looks much more as a “Forget all the bad we did and come and like us!” call for young talented Israelis with potential to contribute to German economy, who might still have their doubt due to historic residues.

Second somewhat similar act appeared on the website of one of the largest Russian News agencies (unfortunately I can’t seem to find a source in English for now): Russian Parliament is  considering a bill granting automatic citizenship to every Ukrainian citizen who chooses to claim one. Here it seems like an even more brutal act of reaching out directly to citizens and trying to attract them to the country. Of course the long shared history of these states and the predominant nature of Russia in this history explain the case.

So could this become a phenomenon? I think that this is actually a genius technique of reaching out to people directly even if it’s done by signing agreements between governments.  As opposed to other PD techniques we explored that usually target specific audiences within a nation, here we are witnessing acts that reach out to the whole population creating potential for a more significant and direct impact.

And here are the articles:

http://itar-tass.com/politika/1004761

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/politics/2014/02/24/German-consulates-assist-Israelis-worldwide_10134193.html

Play nice, America and Japan

sandboxOne of my colleagues recently posted a blog about the danger in words and how they can amplify tensions between nations if used carelessly. This post loosely reminded me of an article published in the New York Times last week about the recent strain on Japan-U.S. relations. The Japanese have been discontent with their treatment by the Obama Administration since last year. They feel as though they’ve been kept at arms length and are that the U.S. riding the fence about their dispute with China over the control of islands in the East China Sea.

The article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/world/asia/nationalistic-remarks-from-japan-lead-to-warnings-of-chill-with-us.html?ref=japan&_r=0

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked in a Youtube video, “Why doesn’t America treat Japan better?,” before quickly taking it down.  The video was in response to the Obama Administration expressing disappointment with the Prime Minister’s visit to a shrine honoring war criminals. Instances like this and others are putting stress on relations between the two countries–who have been allies for many years now, despite their turbulent past. Japan feels isolated from the U.S. while the United States views recent actions by the Japanese as being too nationalistic.

Words have undeniable power. Prime Minister Abe made a strong statement about the United States in his Youtube video. While it may have been made more out of frustration than anything, it has caused a big debate and now people are questioning just how stable relations are between the two countries. I’m sure that more can be done on both sides to appease hurt feelings. The article is also a testament to the fact that even amicable nations suffer public diplomacy stumbling blocks. What do you think about the “sticks and stones” spat between Japan and the United States?

Qatar is Off the Message

 

FBL-WC2014-QAT-FIFA-TROPHY

As I start my research on Qatar’s public diplomacy strategy, I was surprised by this week’s reports following the death of an Indian worker in the 2022 World Cup host preparations. What surprised me was not the fact of the death or the subsequent statistics revealing high death rates and a range of abuses against migrant workers in Qatar, but rather the hesitant and unsatisfying reactions by Qatari officials.

Scholarly literature that I had reviewed so far  (Azran, 2013; Barakat, 2012; Peterson, 2006) suggests that Qatar has skilfully adopted some of the main principles of public diplomacy and soft power. Qatar makes smart use of PD techniques, frames its messages and avoids contradictions between domestic communication and mediated diplomacy, a technique suggested as especially important by Enthman (2008). However with the case of the Indian worker, it seems that Qatar has lost its grip of clever PD. It started by denying the reports, moved on to claiming the death figures to be ‘normal’ and continued with making completely unconvincing statements to reason the numbers such as: “Indians make up the largest community in Qatar… twice the number of Qatari nationals” (Ali Bin Sumaikh al-Marri, the Head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee).

My personal thoughts on this are that Qatar, as many other states including the US, forgets that public image is a sum of various variables. While it’s important to focus on specific issues where a state possesses competitive advantage (Qatar focuses strongly on mediation), other issues should not be overlooked. In case of Qatar there is definitely not enough focus on addressing and framing its questionable human rights practices inside the country.

To read the story:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26260765

Super Bowl 2014 and the Power of Partnerships

‘Invisible’ by U2

For those who watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, it was hard to miss the huge campaign by U2 and Bank of America. During the game U2 have performed and released their new single for free download within 24 hours after the game, while for each download Bank of America donated one dollar to an organization cofounded by Bono in 2006 to combat AIDS. The campaign proved a tremendous success raising $3 Million for AIDS fight.

In light of recent discussion in class about the significance of partnerships, this campaign is a great evidence for growing importance of cross sector partnerships when it comes to raising awareness and/or funds for a cause. It is hard to imagine a government-led campaign of the same scope becoming equally successful. Moreover this is a perfect win-win situation in which both- the Bank of America and Bono significantly leverage their social presence while an important cause is being supported.

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