By Duncan Mackay

A campaign called "Cool Japan" is to be launched in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 ©Getty ImagesMarch 18 - Plans to relaunch the "Cool Japan" campaign have been unveiled to help Japanese culture benefit from Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The new plan was launched today by Japan's Administrative Reform Minister Tomomi Inada.

The phase was initially coined by the Japanese Government in 2002 as an expression of the country's emergent status as a cultural superpower.

But the initiative had stalled in recent years amid criticisms that the Government was not contributing enough financially to help make it a success. 

But Inada is optimistic that Tokyo 2020 will provide the catalyst for it to be a success this time round.

He unveiled proposals to set up a panel including top violinist Taro Hakase, best known for his work with Canadian singer Celine Dion, designer Eisuke Tachikawa, sociologist Noritoshi Furuichi and Japanese television personality Tomoe Shinohara.

The panel is due to hold its first meeting next month and will listen to ideas from the public about how to promote Japanese culture in the build-up to the Games.

The panel will then draw up a report of policy recommendations, Government officials said.

A previous attempt to launch "Cool Japan" did not prove as successful as was hoped  ©Getty ImagesA previous attempt to launch "Cool Japan" did not prove as successful as was hoped
©Getty Images

The Japanese Government is already holding discussions with various Ministries on how to double the annual number of foreign tourists from the current 10 million to 20 million by the time of Tokyo 2020.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with Cabinet Ministers and Government officials and asked them to come up with measures to make it easier for foreign tourists to get around in Japan.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), in 2013, the number of foreign visitors to Japan was 10,364,000, an increase of 24 per cent over 2012.

The JNTO said the largest numbers of tourists came from the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, due to the weak yen and visa waiver programmes, as well as South Korea, Taiwan and China, despite political tensions between Japan and those three countries.

Tourism officials have already started considering measures such as easier and faster access from Narita international airport to Tokyo; more flights into and out of Haneda airport; 24-hour bus, train and subway services in major urban areas; information in several foreign languages at popular tourism destinations; and more visa waiver programmes.

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