Art & Design

Soft Power- Influence and Persuasion

25 March 2014, London

“Soft Power” is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University in 1990. “Soft Power” is a country’s ability to get what it wants by attracting rather than coercing others. [1] In this seminar, Lord Howell will focus on the grey area of national power in the age of digital networks, on the role of civic engagement and soft power as opposed to hard power. He argues that if a nation’s soft power is to be successfully built up and deployed to its advantage, credibility is crucial. The messages of soft power are useless if they are seen as propaganda. Is it ever possible for a state to use soft power and not make it look like propaganda? Joseph Nye recently introduced the concept of ‘smart power’. If soft power is to work alongside military action, what is the right balance between soft and hard? And what is the modern soft power agenda in the age of digital networking? [2]

Professor Yasushi Watanabe will examine the potentials and limitations of “soft power,” with a particular focus on Japan’s public diplomacy. At the time when “power transition” and “power diffusion” has become conspicuous both on national and global levels, where should it or can it go? At the time when global competitions for soft power get intensive, how can it avoid falling into a downward spiral of zero-sum game? There are crucial questions at the time when Japan aspires to be a “proactive contributor to peace.” The seminar will be chaired by Professor Mike Hardy, Executive Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.

[1] Soft Power Superpowers: Cultural and National Assets of Japan and the United States, eds. Yasushi Watanabe and David McConnell (2008)

[2] Old Links & New Ties: Power and Persuasion in an Age of Networks, David Howell (2013)



The Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford

The Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from May 2010 to September 2012, and MP for Guildford from 1966 until 1997.

Professor Yasushi Watanabe

Professor Yasushi Watanabe earned a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 1997


Prof. Dr. Mike Hardy CMG OBE (Chair)

Prof. Dr. Mike Hardy CMG OBE is Professor of Intercultural Relations; Executive Director, Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University.


This event is free but booking is essential. Places can be booked at:

25 March 2014, 6.00pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13 - 14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP. Nearest tube: Baker Street

Tel:020 7486 4348

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation