Japan Launching 10 Billion Yen Initiative To Promote Local Media Overseas

By Ishaan . April 3, 2010 . 11:30am

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During the Tokyo Game Show in 2008, Square Enix president and Computer Entertainment Software Association chairman Yoichi Wada delivered a keynote emphasizing the need for Japanese game developers to collaborate with each other, and share technology and ideas in order to remain relevant and competitive in today’s games industry.

 

However, the tendency of Japanese companies to be especially secretive, follow traditional practices such as lifelong employment, and focus on short-term earnings and dividends rather than long-term growth is not one that is limited to the games industry alone. Rather, it is part of a larger issue across the country, arising from management habits and other factors.

 

To help combat this, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set up the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan in July 2009 to encourage Japanese companies to collaborate with one another more efficiently. The INCJ acts as a national private-equity fund whose purpose is to promote the sharing of technology and innovation, and provide management and support beyond existing organizational setups.

 

According to a report from earlier in the week on Japanese tabloid website Nikkei.com, the INCJ are providing funding toward an initiative to help promote and distribute Japanese media such as movies, anime and music in markets overseas. The aim of the initiative, with a fund of 10 billion yen, is to increase foreign revenue of Japanese media from 2008′s 1 trillion yen to 2.5 trillion yen, by 2020.

 

The initiative is being spearheaded by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Prime Minister Hatoyama has been vocal in the past about the importance of Japan establishing itself as a global leader in animation, and his personal liking for Hayao Miyazaki’s films.


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  • Pichi

    I think they are aiming to high for expectations. They’ll have to push extremely hard and have some mainstream titles for that to happen. They need to start out slow and work out that way. Understand its mostly a niche market. 2.5 trillion, I just don’t see it happening in a year, but we’ll see.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      2020 is ten years away. ;)

      • Pichi

        Thought I read it for a year, lol! In that case, I can see it coming well.

      • MisterNiwa

        No shit, sherlock! >:D

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    Never thought I’d ever see Inyuhasa here :P
    They should use that money to start an overseas publishing company or something like that. I heard from a couple N.A. publishers that just go on about how difficult it is to deal with the companies in Japan sometimes. Setting one up themselves might filter some of that, plus, they’ll be sure to get the good stuff published in a reasonable time. Heck, maybe even set up something like Crunchy Roll and expand to actual channels that people outside Japan can enjoy.
    KSCI 18 used to be -badass- in showing programs from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China; pretty new shows, decent productions, nicely translated, and it offered something for everyone. I don’t watch TV anymore, but last I checked the format is so whack right now it seems like they threw schedules out the window and completely changed everything around, not to mention cut programs.

  • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

    I don’t know if we’ll ever reach that level of anime craze like a few years back, but I have some hopes. I’m hoping for less otaku-niche shows, and maybe more mainstream and Noitamina-esque shows.

    • Aoshi00

      I haven’t watched anime in a long time, how many shows were under the Noitamina brand till now? I loved Honey & Clover (I think that was the first one), I knew there was Paradise Kiss and that Ayashiki ghost show, or the Bacteria show. Wonder if “Shiki” (drawn by Fujisaki Ryu) would be shown in that time slot, his art is way too weird though compared to his early Houshin Engi art..

      • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

        I looked on wikipedia, looks like 18 already finished, and 5 more upcoming series. The thing with Noitamina, it used to be a 30 minute section, now they’re expanding to one-hour, so it’s two shows per week now.

        Shiki is being broadcast in this time slot in July, I don’t know much about it =( I actually haven’t been keeping up with anime news much.

        • Aoshi00

          I hope they maintain the quality. I remember Nodame Cantabile was great too being Noitamina but it was rather low budget, I guess it was hard to have good animation for everyone playing musical instruments.

          “Shiki” is a horror manga, up to 7 volumes now but I only read the first two, his art just isn’t appealing to me anymore like Obata Takeshi’s Bakuman, I find it very ugly. I don’t watch anime anymore since I don’t even have time to play all the games I buy, but I still read manga occasionally, though I have a huge backlog for that too. I hope it’s a better adaptation than Houshin Engi a good manga but crappy anime.

          • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

            Yeah, Nodame’s 3D hands were a little odd. I admit, I’ve only seen the first season, and while I found it charming, I couldn’t get into the second season, I’d rather watch the drama. I don’t watch that much anime nowerdays, probably only 1-2 series a season, and yeah, reading manga is just more convenient. But I have watched some of the recent Noitamina stuff, such as Eden of the East, Toshokan Sensou, Tokyo Magnitude.

            But the biggest flaw in Noitamina is that they’re only allowed 13 episodes, so adaptations tend to get rushed, or the story loses some potential since it has to be cut shorter.

          • Aoshi00

            Is it all 13 eps though? Honey & Clover was actually 26, or 24 I forgot and that was the first show under such banner, and Nodame’s 1st season had 23 (2nd season 13). I saw a little bit of Eden of the East, what caught my attention was the character design by Umino Chika who was the author of Honey & Clover :) I first watched the Nodame drama, then got into the anime, and then manga after the anime ended, the drama was my fav too since it was my first experience w/ Nodame, and real live musical performance and its funny over the top CG beats subpar animation (still shot for Chiaki baton waving, way to show off a conductor’s skill..). Also good choreography since the main leads didn’t actually play the music, I’m no expert on Orchestra, but it sure looked like they were the real stuff.I used to think that anime was better because it has music and voice acting, but manga is definitely more convenient for adults. You’re right, limiting a series’s length definitely doesn’t do a long running manga justice, which was what happened to Houshin Engi (23 manga volumes -> 26 eps), animation was horrible, total disaster. Given the opportunity, the anime adaptation could rival DBZ or Naruto I suppose w/ its epic battles.

          • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

            You’re right, H&C’s first season was 24 episodes, but outside of Nodame and Shiki (22 episodes), all the other series were around 12 episodes. I’m not sure what determines it. Probably the popularity/length of the source material

            Whether anime or manga is better, it depends for me. Sometimes the director will do an amazing job, and the production values are high. But often the source material doesn’t have to cut back and can take more risks. Plus it’s easier for me to read many chapters of manga, over marathoning an anime.

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    Well, we are talking about the only country where USA’s culture couldnt penetrate in their country’s culture, even more, japan’s culture is the one penetrating USA’s culture. Gotta admit it, japan may be small but they pwn in business.

    • Aoshi00

      I don’t know, I think it’s both ways.. people everywhere including Jpn have enjoyed the US’s hollywood movies or popular music.

      • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

        Yes, but thats normal, to get imported movies and such :P, but culure, ways of clothing, ways to socialize, trends, etc, thos kind of stuff are always the japanese way in japan, but in my country is already really close to what is the social part of north america

        • Aoshi00

          Well, there are many reasons, nationalistic, geographical, or political, they do enjoy US popular influence to a certain extent, but they don’t like the US army occupation in Okinawa base. Jpn is good at adapting other cultures and changing it into their own, always been so, chinese characters into their writing system, turning stereo into walkman, etc. They wear modern day “western” clothes but keep their kimono, I don’t think discos/clubs were originated from Jpn right? And you see people carrying ipods the world over including Jpn (which usually isn’t too keen on letting foreign products taking over their market), which is a US brand.

          • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

            Thats not what im trying to say but ok :P, im not talking economically though, guess you gotta live in one of those american influenced countries to understand it

          • Aoshi00

            You’re saying that Japan has maintained its culture but the fact is it has assimilated many western culture in its society, where does rap/hip hop music come from? Many musical artists and fashion are from the West as well (they might have improved on it, leading the fashion trend), people copy from each other, it’s a 2-way street, especially how globalized the world is today (how many English loan words in its everyday vocabulary). But yes, Jpn does try to maintain its identity and tradition since it’s a homogenous society for the most part unlike the US, one look at Jpn’s immigration policy is clear, they don’t really welcome foreigners, don’t need or want any if possible. Jpn’s culture is not unique because it’s distinctly Japanese, it’s unique precisely because it is east meets west to the extreme.

          • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

            One of the main reasons they dont want foreigners is because japan is a small isle, they already have all those problems with garbage, the last thing they want is more ppl to come.
            And that is not quite im saying… for example, in this country, like many others, we celebrate halloween, reason? who knows? as far as i know halloween is an american tradition, there are some more patriot days here, but we barely celebrate them, 14 february, in japan is different from everywhere, and they even have that white days or something like that… latin american countries are looking more like a USA’s copy everyday. Im not saying japanese culture is unique…. and im not saying it is unique, every culture is unique, but most of the cultures are heavily infliuenced by america’s culture, thx globalization,although ive been hearing a lot lately that chinesse language may become the new english o.0….

          • Aoshi00

            Sure those holidays take on different meanings, Jpn celebrate Christmas too, even though it’s not really for religious observance but rather like a romantic day for couples (though it’s commercial in many places too), they always take something and put a spin on it. Other than limited resources, Jpn does not like foreigners just cause, even the Koreans who are born there. The gov’t was paying Filipino workers to get out of the border even though some have established families. Every country has their own problems. It might not be far fetched that Chinese might be the new English, you alrdy see that happen in Sci-Fi flicks like Blade Runner or Firefly. English has been the de facto international language because of the US’s prominence on the global stage over the past several decades, on the technological or military front (and rich popular culture). The power for a country to assert its influence on others is by many means, and Jpn treats pop culture as one of them.And isn’t Latin America closer to the US geographically compared to Japan half way across the globe. You can see many Chinese influences in other Asian cultures too because of their proximity and historical connection over the years. I don’t know which part of the Latin America you’re in, but I don’t see how a country has to give up its own even though it has influence from its neighbors, it’s like here Jewish people in the US observe Passover, Hanukkah, etc, instead of Christmas or Easter. In Hong Kong it’s the same, it was a Britsh colony for 150 yrs, that’s why it has both Western and Chinese holidays, except they don’t bastardize them like Japan. Yes, globalization is inevitable, that comes w/ free trade. And the Jpn gaming industry is always thinking how to expand to entice the audience in the West because the bigger piece of the pie is in here. You don’t see many US developers making games for Jpn gamers’ taste.Why celebrate Halloween? Guess it’s just fun for kids to get candies. Why White Day after Valentine’s Day, because Jpn is a patriarchal society.

  • cowcow

    The last paragraph makes me lol for some reason

    Imagine Georgw Bush or Obama delivering speeches about how Bugs Bunny or Pixar should remain the leaders in animation in the world

    • Aoshi00

      Well, Jpn pride themselves in penetrating other markets w/ many means, first their electronics, now pop culture entertainment. I suppose it’s not that weird for any government to subsidize a certain sector of their economy to compete w/ other countries.

      But really, while games/anime/manga are very prominent in Jpn culture, it’s mostly not seen in a very positive light by most regular folks (even in Jpn). While there is Miyazaki giving lectures on environment on one hand, there’s lots of hentai/kiddie born that the West is pressuring the Jpn government to ban.

      I wonder how long Hatoyama would last, it’s hard to be the Prime Minister of Jpn.. things ain’t all rosy there, I guess neither is the US.

  • malek86

    Before planning to grow in other markets, they should first try and get some decent stuff back on air. The last three seasons have been pretty much just fanservice-ridden shows.

  • badmoogle

    “…and distribute Japanese media such as movies, anime and music in markets overseas. ”

    I really hope video games are also included in this project.

    Anyway this reminds me a very interesting interview i read in Edge#211 of Game Republic’s president Yoshiki Okamoto.In the interview Okamoto proposed something very interesting that if it ever happens i think it will bring Japanese developers back to the front row of “cutting edge” game development.
    He said:
    “If you want to compete with the world stage,you need more finances.I don’t think we necessarily have to go to Montreal to make games: we need to come out with an engine that is competative enough.Today we have various teams working for Bantai Namco.Their development engine and ours are different.I’m sure they have some coming from outside,while others have been made in-house.This only pushes the development costs up.I believe we need only one engine in Japan for the entire industry.We could even imagine building a Team Japan company that would be in charge of developing such technologies,financed by the industry big names.”

    So i think it could be possible under the help and inspection of INCJ to form a company that will unite technologies from all major companies that will benefit the whole Japanese game development industry.But first,as Ishaan mentioned in the article they need to get rid of their lifelong company management traditions something which i don’t know if it could ever be possible in a country that is bonded so much with their traditions.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      That’s a fantastic suggestion, the “Team Japan” idea. Judging by what happened to Last Remnant, I don’t think licensing western engines is very efficient either. But having a dedicated team with technical know-how whose only job is working on and tweaking engines to suit the needs of different companies would be great.

      But yea, management is definitely the first barrier that needs to be dealt with.

  • Jirin

    Let’s get some of that money toward localizing Tales of Graces.

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