Indonesia has recently been discussed by many scholars that debate its future contributions to the dynamics of international relations. Stable economic growth in recent years and a leading position in regional organizations are factors counted.
The country has also been mentioned in the latest World Bank Global Development Horizons Report to be one of the major contributors to global growth, along with Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Korea.
In the 159-page report, emerging markets, including Indonesia, will grow by an average of 4.7 percent during the 2011-2025 period, compared with the developed world’s growth of only 2.3 percent over the same term.
Despite the positive projections for this country, the power of Indonesia in international politics is still questionable.
Questions remain over how Indonesia might make use of its potential to assume a more prominent role in global affairs.
Even though Indonesia’s economic growth is viewed as impressive, the gap between the rich and the poor is becoming larger. The military has not enjoyed significant improvement from the results of rapid economic growth.
What then can Indonesia possibly do to capitalize on its good reputation?
When speaking about power, economic and military forces are of primary importance, but we should not disregard what it is regularly referred to as soft power.
In his book, The Future of Power, published by International House of Japan, Joseph S. Nye Jr. wrote that emerging international politics will be completely different from previous eras.
As the use of military force or economic coercion, or both, to benefit one country’s interests is becoming increasingly unpopular, soft power will play a more prominent role in 21st century international politics.
The unique aspects of soft power demonstrate that any country could be capable of increasing its own global influence.
A very obvious example of successful use of soft power, as most already acknowledge, is Japan. This country has successfully used of its beautiful and rich culture to gain more influence across the world.
Many people might not yet know that some of the success of Japan in using its culture as soft power actually came from the light content of cartoons and animation pioneered by its people.
Internationally minded animators and manga-ka such as Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki are only two of many Japanese artists willing to bring their culture global.
In Japanamerica: How Japanese pop culture has invaded the US by Roland Kelts, we can find that Japan is not only rich in culture, but also in philosophy and initiative.
One of the Japanese marketing philosophies mentioned in the book is monozukuri. There is no precise translation for this word, as it is full of Japanese values that may be difficult to interpret into other languages.
However, it can be more or less explained as work focused on details, aesthetics and perfection. In fact, manga and anime are examples of monozukuri, which are globally accepted.
Japan also appeals to its American counterparts because it is said that Japan always tries to do things faster with fewer resources.
This can especially be traced back to the 1960s when Japan was in its post-war economic recovery period. People of Japan, at that time, were striving to reach the zenith of their national spirit to move forward by giving as much as they could for their country.
With the great manga and anime wave in Europe, the US, Asia and Australia, many more people became interested in studying and learning about Japan.
Many people who have special interests in Japan have become influential in fostering bilateral relations between their countries and Japan.
Indonesia is also rich in culture and tradition. Indonesia is where the oldest Hindu and Buddhist temples are located. Indonesia is also known for its beautiful handmade batik and handicrafts.
Even renowned British textile designer Laura Miles has a special interest in tenun ikat, which brought her into collaboration with top Indonesian fashion designer Oscar Lawalata.
In the region, Indonesian music, serial dramas and movies are on the top of the list amongst other entertainment productions in Southeast Asia.
Many Indonesian serial dramas are played in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.
Indonesian singers such as Agnes Monica, Nidji and Ungu are also gaining popularity across Southeast Asia. The Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors) movie has also received several awards, including the Golden Butterfly Award in Iran.
So what are we waiting for? It is now our time to ride the Indonesian wave!
Written by Khoirul Amin. The writer is assistant program officer at the Japan Foundation, Jakarta. The opinions expressed are his own.
Source: The Jakarta Post
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