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Emotions Cross National Borders―Japanese Entertainment Challenging the Stage Named Asia―

MCIP Holdings

PROLOGUE

How much acceptance can Japanese entertainment gain in the rest of the world? That is a difficult challenge MCIP Holdings (MCIP) is tackling head-on. It is a little different from exporting products that already exist. The product is people and the content that people have produced, and the market is within people’s hearts. Media Contents Incubation Platform: as the name says, MCIP is creating a base for entertainment that will strike the hearts of people in Asia. Japanese entertainment companies, with Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd. at the center, have gathered together to tackle this project. We talked to three key figures in this project.

*At Yoshimoto Kogyo’s main office (Shinjuku Ward), which is housed in a building that was formerly an elementary school.
*Information as of April 2018


PROFILE

MCIP Holdings
President
Hideaki Shimizu

Hideaki Shimizu

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Hideaki Shimizu joined ITOCHU Corporation and engaged in work related to Asian telecommunications. He has lived in both Shanghai and Bangkok. In 1997, he resigned while in Bangkok, then his place of appointment, and joined a local media company targeting Southeast Asia with a focus on Thailand. In 2000, he joined Space Shower Networks Inc., and became the president in 2011. In 2017, he became chairman of the board of the company as well as the executive vice-president of MCIP. He has been the President since April 2018.

Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Overseas Strategy Department
Shizuko Yokote

Shizuko Yokote

After Shizuko Yokote left a sports marketing company, she joined Yoshimoto Creative Agency in August 2009. In July 2013, she became the head of the corporate planning department, where she put her efforts towards developing a company jointly managed by the public and private sectors to expand entertainment to the rest of Asia. When MCIP was established in June 2014, she became the President. She has been engaged in overseas strategy in Yoshimoto Kogyo since April 2018.

Yoshimoto Entertainment Thailand
CEO
Wim Manopimok

Wim Manopimok

Wim Manopimok was born in Bangkok and came to Japan when he was four years old due to his father’s business. He returned to Thailand at the age of fourteen. He graduated with his master’s degree from Waseda University on a MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) scholarship, and joined a large Japanese company. He returned to Thailand in 2000, and became connected to the creation of various local businesses related to Japanese companies. In 2013, he became the CEO of Yoshimoto Entertainment (Thailand).

chapter1 The Creation of Entertainment Rooted in the Local Area, Not Just Entertainment Brought from Japan
The projects that MCIP develops are extensive. The Asian countries they have expanded to are Indonesia, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Some of their projects include Sumimasu Asia Geinin, a project in which an entertainer is sent to live in a different country and have to work from scratch for fame; television program production in collaboration with local television networks; and the production of idol groups featuring local young people. Recently, “Huashan Laugh&Peace Factory,” a building that holds events for Japanese content in Taiwan, has become a hot topic. MCIP’s target demographic is all of the local people in Asia. How will they seize the hearts of people of different languages and cultures?
Yokote
I feel that becoming rooted in the local area is extremely important. It’s true that in Asia, there are many people that like Japan and Japanese pop culture and would be happy if we brought over popular Japanese entertainers. However, that’s actually a niche market. To really put down roots, we have to target the general public, including people who don’t fall into that category. If we just bring Japanese content as-is, then it can’t possibly go well. I strongly feel that we have to create content locally from a local point of view.
Wim
If you ask “how much do Thai people like Japan?” then there are plenty of people who don’t. The opinions are entirely different based on generation and environment. On the other hand, there is a lot of strong content that everyone knows, such as anime like Kamen Rider and Ultraman as well as Japanese cuisine. It’s important to figure out how to localize content that people in different countries are interested in to reclaim the market.
Yokote
We learn which content will be popular in the local area by first testing it out. Even if you do research beforehand, you won’t know until it is implemented. For that reason, making the “Huashan Laugh&Peace Factory” in Taiwan into a place where we constantly present content 365 days a year is big. I think that having such a space can create content and popular people, and would like to try in overseas as well.
Shimizu
Yoshimoto Kogyo, which is a core company of MCIP, creates events and playhouses, holds film festivals, and uses its powerful domestic network as a weapon to create transmission centers for their content. It’s very important to do the same thing throughout Asia. For that purpose, how you enter the local market is essential, such as finding good partners. Last year, when MCIP held a music event in Thailand, we included people such as local well-known music producers as part of the team. Those people already have a local network. From here on, on top of broadening our content production, I think it’s important to construct and utilize a local network through various functions.
Yokote
It’s really important to do things with someone local. For example, instead of analyzing the Thai market, having Wim, a Thai person who also knows Japan well, in the area became one of our strengths. I think finding as many partners like him as we can in each country is the key to this project.
MCIP Holdings

Top) “Sumimasu Asia Geinin” appear on local TV programs

Bottom) 「SPACE SHOWER RETSUDEN ASIATOUR 2017 powered by MCIP」

“Huashan Laugh&Peace Factory” in Taiwan


chapter2 Pursuing the New Role and Business Model of Entertainment Business with the Entire Industry
In 2014, MCIP was established by the Cool Japan Fund and seven private companies, including Yoshimoto Kogyo. The next year, Space Shower Networks Inc., a music channel and event planning company, joined the group. Yokote, Shimizu, and Wim discussed the purpose of aiming for overseas expansion by gathering companies in the industry together, rather than by a single company. There they grasped the challenges that the Japanese entertainment industry faces, and we caught a glimpse of their hearts that believe in those hidden possibilities.
Shimizu
I lived a long time in different parts of Asia, but I feel that entertainment can do a lot more in this environment where the role of software, which has increased in people’s daily lives due to digital components, has changed a lot. Essentially, entertainment has the power to move people and to enjoyably transmit things in an easily understood way. We have to pursue the possibilities of entertainment including the business model that can earn money by collaborating more with various industries like education, sports, and tourism.
Yokote
From a business standpoint, I sometimes feel it challenging that recouping the cost of bringing out added value in Japan’s good qualities just by revenue from local market. For example, hiring a producer and choreographer from Japan to create a local idol group in the Japanese manner takes money. To make it practical as a business, we can’t simply push the costs for Japanese qualities to the local market. We have to grasp the essentials of what will move people or what will strike their hearts.
Wim
In the long term, this project is creating a new market. It would be good if the seeds we are scattering now bear fruit by the next generation. There’s no way someone will become famous overnight; you have to continue working. For that reason, we have to keep the motivation of our assets -- that is the idols, artists, and entertainers -- high. However, they’re people, too, and they have their own feelings and preferences. The hardest part is how to create their stories and how to keep their motivation high.
Shimizu
Right now, this generation of young Japanese artists has close feelings with the people in Asia thanks to the internet, and fans in each country are already connected to the artists via social media. So the voices of people saying they want to go to Asia and intermingle with other Asian creators are quite strong. Those voices are helping push this project forward. On the one hand, while Japan’s market is big and the system is complete, sometimes I feel that the way entertainment is treated and structured is old-fashioned. I feel that unless we more actively interact with Asian market, the entertainment will continue to age both in terms of business model and producing content.
Yokote
That’s exactly why I think it’s important that MCIP, a corporation made by gathering various companies in the industry, will be the first mover in the industry to break through to the rest of Asia and create a base by using personal connections to put down local roots.

chapter3 As the Platform Expanded in Multiple Countries across Asia
MCIP says that in 2018, they will set up new places to present new content, such as live houses and theaters in various places around Asia. As people around the world are paying more and more attention to Japan with the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games coming up in 2020, they will continue to attempt new challenges in Japanese entertainment with speeding up the pace of their challenges even more. These three trailblazers discussed the dreams they want to make reality via this project.
Wim
It would be good if we expand our success in Thailand to the countries like Vietnam and Myanmar and localize our content for those countries. That’s how I want to make a platform that connects Japan with other Asian countries with entertainment. I don’t know how long it will take, but I think it would be good if we are able to pass the baton to the next generation.
Yokote
In addition to MCIP becoming a success in each country in Asia, I think it’s very important to become a platform that can connect and cover multiple countries in Asia. With that significance in mind, having Mr. Shimizu around might be MCIP’s breakthrough as he knows Asia well and is familiar with various languages from around the continent. As a manager, he is receptive to being sensitive and looks at things from a long-term point of view. I have an image of the entertainment industry being a so-called closed industry. I think that MCIP has an important mission in opening up a new style of business instead of utilizing the style that Japan has always used.
Shimizu
From an educational point of view, the way that stimulating someone connects them to other people is interesting. I would be happy if this project gives hopes and dreams to children who then grow up to become creators and in turn give hopes and dreams to others. Also, one of this project’s characteristics is that it’s happening in various countries. From here on, if we can move forward to a new phase using the countries’ horizontal relationships with each other, we might be able to create chances to change the relationships between countries and regions for the better. I think it would be good if MCIP could be a hub for that.
ロゴ

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