Japanese governmental agencies/film culture promotional policies

Jonathan M Hall jmhall at uci.edu
Thu Sep 4 07:07:19 EDT 2008

Dear All,

The last thing I want to do is become an apologist for the absence of  
a comprehensive, user-friendly film heritage and promotion policy in  
Japan.  Still, I think it will help us to be more precise in our  
discussion, especially if the important issues that Mark Roberts  
raises are to be pursued in an organized way.

For one, we need to distinguish the Japan Foundation's holdings from  
those of a film archive.  We'd do better to compare the National Film  
Center in Kyobashi, rather than the Japan Foundation, with  
institutions like the BFI.  Instead, the Japan Foundation, which has  
been incredibly supportive for particular projects organized and  
enjoyed by listmembers and at other times silent at best, needs to be  
understood for what it is: a branch of the Ministry of Foreign  
Affairs.  In this regard, we might compare its efforts to other  
overseas promotional agencies.  I can think, on the one hand, of  
aggressive government-funded film=specific promotional projects such  
as KOFIC, the Korean Film Council which recently opened its own  
overseas office in Los Angeles. On the other, we have the example of  
Taiwan's Economic and Cultural Offices--Although TECO had been  
equipping its local offices with 16 mm collections of Taiwanese films  
from the New Wave on, it seems that that program was cut  in at least  
some regions and local universities found themselves the recipients  
of 16 mm taiwanese bounty--but the broader film-culture promotional  
mission had ended.

Also, it's not quite fair to say that the Bunka-cho has been  
completely MIA. Limited it may be, I can recall at least one project  
in which the Bunka-cho has been proactive; it collaborated with Image  
Forum to sponsor a number of Japanese film promotional projects in  
Korea, screening materials from the period when Japanese cultural  
imports were banned. I know there are more.

Thanks, though, to Mark for pushing us to engage this issue.  I'd be  
really interested in hearing what people want ... for whom are  
services expected?  scholars? programmers? general audiences?  Each  
demands a different kind of support.

I suspect many have noticed that Prime Minister Fukuda is stepping  
down; it looks increasingly likely that Aso Taro will become the new  
PM.  With his reported fondness for manga, can we hope for more  
general support of Japanese popular culture?


Jonathan M. Hall
Assistant Professor
Comparative Literature/ Film & Media Studies
University of California Irvine
HIB 320
Irvine CA 92697-2651 USA

tel 1-949-824-9778
fax 1-949-824-1992

On 3 Sep 2008, at 17:19, Mark D. Roberts wrote:

> On Sep 3, 2008, at 10:32 PM, Aaron Gerow wrote:
>> But many in the Japanese film industry these days are ignorant and  
>> short-sighted, only looking at the money in front of their faces  
>> and not thinking of long-term ways of building up their business.  
>> It is quite frustrating dealing with such people who don't  
>> understand their business or care much about movies.
> If the production companies have proven themselves to be  
> intransigent, shouldn't the issue be taken to a higher level?
> Why, for example, does the Ministry of Culture claim to promote  
> Japan as "a culture-oriented country", "the maintenance and  
> establishment of cultural facilities", "international cultural  
> exchange; designation of national treasures, important cultural  
> properties", etc., and yet they seem to be completely MIA in this  
> matter?
> M

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