Japanese governmental agencies/film culture promotional policies

Mark D. Roberts mroberts37
Thu Sep 4 11:44:20 EDT 2008

Thank you, Jonathan, for sharpening the discussion.

I was also thinking of the NFC, but I hesitated to mention it because  
the original topic of discussion was the Japan Foundation and its  
policies for providing films for screening overseas. That is a fairly  
specific mission, and without wishing to divert attention from the  
needs of programmers, I was curious to have a better understanding of  
the bigger picture.

My sense is that there has been some overlap between the mission of  
the Japan Foundation and other institutions, but you are absolutely  
right that each should be kept in perspective. The Japan Foundation  
hasn't been trying to be a Japanese equivalent of the BFI. They are  
not attempting to be a film library for researchers, let alone the  
general public. It has, nevertheless, been possible for researchers to  
screen films at their office in Akasaka, largely because of their  
generosity and desire to promote film heritage. They have a collection  
of books and periodicals on Japanese culture and society (which they  
very modestly renamed as an "information center") which serves  
researchers, but it does not include access to their film holdings and  
they don't pretend that it's a film library.

To run with your question about services, I agree that it's a good  
idea to distinguish several different circuits. Programmers have  
certain needs, the Japan Foundation has been providing a service to  
them, and there's evidently an ongoing conflict with the rights  
holders, which might be described as a disconnect around cultural  
policy. Insofar as the Japan Foundation is a branch of the Ministry of  
Foreign Affairs, perhaps there is no institutional mandate to explore  
broader policies for film heritage and its promotion, policies that  
might help to get beyond the impasse with the production companies.  
The Ministry of Culture, on the other hand, does seem to have this  
mandate. They have seemingly been involved in policy-making, animated  
by the so-called "Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and  
Arts" of 2001, and so one could expect them to be more pro-active.  
This is speculation on my part, and I throw this out in hopes that  
somebody who actually understands the politics will chime in with more  
detail. What, specifically, are their policies?

To respond to the second part of your question about services and  
expectations, I think it's fair to say that a number of people on  
KineJapan would be happy to see more emphasis on support for  
researchers. I'd assume that institutions other than the Japan  
Foundation would play a key role here. The NFC seems a logical one,  
but they are seemingly not equipped to receive researchers, or at  
least not in the capacity that I'd expect. This is unfortunate, and  
thus also a situation that makes me wonder about Bunka-cho, about the  
execution of its policies for promoting film as a part of cultural  


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