Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Brit teen targets bright lights of Tokyo

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Mention the Isle of Man to somebody from Britain and they might be able to tell you it’s the venue for a famous motorbike race. Utter the name of the place to some Japanese people and there’s a reasonable chance they’ll know it as the home of 14-year-old schoolgirl cum entertainer Beckii Cruel.

Musicians ranging from dour European indie bands to obscure free jazz artists have long been able to boast of dedicated fans in Japan, but most can only dream of the popularity that this teenager from the UK has – rather bizarrely – started to generate for herself here in the last year.

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Videos of Cruel dancing in her bedroom to the theme tunes of famous manga programmes, while dressed as their lead characters originally struck a chord with some of Japan’s “otaku”, a word often translated as “geek”, when they were picked up from YouTube by a popular Japanese website.

But Cruel’s success is now becoming more mainstream – she regularly features on entertainment news pages – and this week’s release of her latest single (a cover version of an old J-pop favourite) looks set to propel her firmly beyond the streets of the otaku Mecca, Tokyo’s Akihabara district.

Japan eyes pop art stimulus

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Japan’s manga-loving prime minister, Taro Aso, has long touted the importance of pop culture such as comicbooks and anime to boost Japan’s global diplomatic status. Now he’s targeting pop culture’s economic potential.

JAPAN/Included in a $154 billlion stimulus package is a target of raising exports from the “content” sector to about 18 percent of exports from less than 2 percent now, and Aso waved glossy magazines from China and Taiwan featuring Japanese pop stars on their covers to show what he wants to do.

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