Japan Country Performance, Nation Brand Image and Reputation

Japan’s Nation Brand is a captivating fusion of ancient traditions, modern innovation, and cultural richness. Known for iconic landmarks like Kyoto’s historic temples and Tokyo’s cutting-edge technology hubs, Japan proudly showcases its diverse cultural and technological heritage as central elements of its global image.

How does one of the world’s most developed economies perform in global rankings that measure talent attraction potential, public diplomacy, soft power strength and environmental sustainability? What influence have recent political developments had on the international reputation of Japan? Let’s take a closer look at how Japan positions itself on the global stage, based on data provided by TPBO partners and other institutions.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Japan’s soft power and brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and wellbeing
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Japan’s brand strength and appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel

How does Japan compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally?

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Japan secures the 6th position, behind Australia (5th) and the US (4th). Notably, Japan excels in two key areas: entrepreneurship (3rd) assessing technological expertise, digital infrastructure, and a skilled labor force; and cultural influence (5th), which analyzes trendiness, modernity, and strength of consumer brands. Impressively, Japan maintains its positioning from the previous year.

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six different factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking Japan secures the 1st position, jumping one position from the previous ranking. This is a huge success for the country as Germany (2nd) held the first position for many years.

The Expat Insider 2023 notes Japan ranks at the bottom ten (44th), grouped amongst fellow weak performers such as Germany and Turkey in terms of expats’ satisfaction. However, the country performs quite well in the Healthcare (7th) and Quality of Life (12th) metrics.

As per the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023, Japan secures the 13th position for FDI inflows in 2022, trailing behind Mexico (10th) and Spain (11th). This marks a jump of two positions compared to its 2021 ranking. Japan’s FDI inflows increased to USD 33 billion which is the highest ever recorded for the country. In terms of FDI outflows, Japan ranks 2nd in 2022, another jump of two positions from 2021. Overall Japanese outflows increased by 10% between 2021 and 2022.

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, Japan makes a remarkable leap to the 5th position after previously holding the 9th spot. This shift is likely due to Japan’s low inflation rate, transparent regulatory system and advanced technology, research and development. Japan continues to demonstrate great progress in D2 – Digital Demand © and has the opportunity to increase its CBS Rating. Globally, Japan secured the 16th position, a jump of fourteen positions from the previous ranking.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Japan at the 6th global position, advancing two spots from the previous year and trailing behind Germany (4th) and the UK (5th). This upswing is believed to be attributed to Japan’s improvements across the board, with particularly positive results for its touristic appeal and social media performance. Regionally, Japan now holds the 1st position, climbing two places from the previous ranking, thanks to its increase in tourism receipts. Bloom Consulting expects Japan to reach the global top five in the near future.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, Japan secured the 35th position, showing a slight shift from its 34th ranking in 2022 and 30th in 2021. Currently, it sits just behind France (33rd) and Indonesia (34th) while surpassing Spain (36th) and Kazakhstan (37th).

In terms of specific characteristics, Japan ranks 26th in economic performance, dropping six positions from the 2022 ranking. It holds the 42nd position for government efficiency, experiencing a drop of three positions compared to 2022. Japan jumps four positions to the 47th position for business efficiency, and holds the 23rd spot for infrastructure, dropping one position from 2022.

Talent in Japan

How competitive is Japan’s talent?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Japan at an impressive 6th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past five years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Japan, classified as a high-income country within the Eastern/South-Eastern Asia & Oceania regional group, currently holds the 26th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, Japan ranks best in the Enable pillar (9th) while the Attract pillar presents to be its biggest challenge where it ranked 42nd.

In terms of education excellence, Japan boasts two universities within the top 100 worldwide, according to the World University Rankings 2024. These esteemed institutions are: The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University.

Japan’s soft power

How influential is Japan in terms of soft power? 

The Global Soft Power Index 2024 ranks Japan 4th driven by strong reputation, perceptions towards Business & Trade, Education & Science, and Sustainable Future.

This year’s research includes several new metrics relating to Sustainable Future. Germany stands first in terms of environmental sustainability followed by Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway. But Japan leads the ‘Sustainable cities and transport’ metric, one of the most important sustainability-linked drivers of soft power, likely driven by its reputation for exceptional public transportation.

As a travel destination, Japan has room for further leveraging its strong perceptions to drive tourism performance since arrivals per population rank lower than among competitor nations though Japan generate strong tourism spend.

Japan a good country?

What is Japan’s contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Japan secured the 139th position, at the forth bottom position. Japan performs best in the subfactor of helping a stranger with 21% of its adult population. However, this marks a significant decline as in 2022 the country ranked 118th.

In the Good Country Index, Japan currently holds the 34th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (70th), Culture (49th), International Peace & Security (23rd), World Order (77th), Planet & Climate (44th), Prosperity & Equality (27th), and Health & Wellbeing (15th). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, Japan was ranked 26th, and in 2021, it held the 24th position. While the country has experienced an overall drop in its ranking, there have been significant increases in the Prosperity and Equality and International Peace and Security factors.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Japan ranked in the blue zone (8-9 range) with a 8.33 out of 10. This is higher than South Korea (8.03) and the United Kingdom (8.28).

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks Japan 18th, tying with Belgium and the United Kingdom. Japan’s score has maintained the same since 2021. 

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Japan 21st, it highlights that Japan continues to face significant and major challenges in quite a few of the 17 SDGs. However, the factors of Quality of Education and Industry Innovation and Infrastructure have both reached SDG achievement status while the No Poverty factor is on track.

Japan’s environmental sustainability

What is Japan’s contribution to local and global sustainability? 

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Japan 25th. The EPI analyzes the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Japan has experienced a change in score of positive 3.2.

Peace and happiness in Japan

Is Japan a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Japan 9th, maintaining its positioning from the previous year, meaning it sits in the very high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Japan sits in between Slovenia (8th) and Switzerland (10th). Japan is positioned 3rd regionally amongst its fellow Asia-Pacific countries, led by New Zealand and Singapore.

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks Japan within the medium impact zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. Japan ranks 62nd, sitting in between Austria (61st) and Saudi Arabia (63rd). 

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks Japan 47th.

Last updated in December 2023. More country profiles here.

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