Since thursday, I am an intern at the German Embassy. But don’t bother, even though you know now where I work, I am pretty sure you are not able to get inside without effort to disturb my privacy. As you would expect, you are going to be checked quite thoroughly.
My department is the department of culture and communication. But what does that mean for me?
On the cultural part, I help people connecting, for example a german orchestra that wants to visit a japanese school. This includes a lot of communicating with more german institutions that operate from Japan, like the Goethe Institut, the DAAD or the OAG. But don’t get confused, this is culture. For communication I help the embassy conveying an image of Germany in Japan and among the japanese people.
The general image Germany has in Japan is a bit dusted, you could say. We are associated with beer, engineering and seriousness. And although there are noticable overlaps with the stereotypes of other countries, it is not the rather negative stereotype of the humourless German, but more the positive sterotype of the punctual, hardworking and reliable German.
Therefore, we have a very high popularity among japanese men over 40.
Unfortunately though, young japanese women go much more abroad – in fact, twice as much as their male counterparts of the same age-group. On their trips to Europe, they will most likely leave out Germany, because it does not appeal to them, and that is just such a pity and therefore our biggest problem with our image.
We definitely have much more to offer and this is what we want to convey at the embassy, through social media and various events we are hosting and supporting. To be very honest here, I would be impressed if we could achieve this change in our image. Stereotypes are persistent and often remain intact for several generations. To appeal to japanese women in their twenties, we most likely have to go 180° – from serious and stern to hip and cute.
I’m very excited to be a part of this, though. I will see Germany from a whole new perspective myself and from what I can tell so far, we might even have found a possible point of entry.
But what are your ideas on that?