Gen Kanai points to the Gross National Cool article by Douglas McGray in Foreign Policy which triggered a serious of articles along the same idea. The thrust of the article is that although Japan's economy is in the dumps, the export of trendy culture like anime is strong and that Japanese biggest asset is it's "cool". I like the original article and I think McGray makes some good observations. Tony Kobayashi mentioned this in his remarks at the Japan Dinner at Davos last year and many people have begun to talk about this -- so many people, that the Japanese government has taken notice and begun to pursue this line of thinking in ernest.
I'm not as cool as some, but I'm cooler than many. From my experience hanging out with the cool people in Tokyo, my observation is that they are cool DESPITE government and other un-cool people. In fact, I would assert that in most cultures, it is the oppression and stifling of freedom that often allows a strong counter-culture to form. This counter/sub-culture is often the basis of "coolness". I think that the government's efforts to "support" and fund coolness in Japan could be disastrous. Just like most funding of venture business by government ended up going to people with "connections," I believe that an organized effort by the bureaucracy to make Japan more cool will have to opposite effect. I think that the government should focus on supporting the traditional culture and arts of Japan which are dwindling because of lack of support. They are more used to interacting with the establishment and I believe that the root/heart of a healthy pop culture is a strong base in historical culture.