Anime Expo 2008
Keynote Address: Entertainment Platform of Japan

by Mikhail Koulikov,

AX's second professional keynote address featured what was quite possibly the first ever industry panel presented by a cosplayer, as Shigeru Kimura, dressed as Dragon Ball's Master Roshi introduced the U.S. office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), where he is the chief executive director. Sponsored by the Japanese government, JETRO is tasked with promoting mutual trade and investment between Japan and other countries around the world.

JETRO's newest project is the Entertainment Platform of Japan initiative. This will include a research center tasked with conducting and publishing market research on the Japanese popular culture industry, a newsletter on recent industry developments, and a database collecting information on "content industry" companies in both countries. It has already released a pair of studies covering Japan's anime and manga companies. The EPJ will also sponsor seminars on Japanese media and culture, booths at trade events like the American Film Market and the Licensing International show, and an annual symposium bringing together producers of Japanese entertainment content and licensors from throughout the world. Recently, JETRO has also launched Cool Japan, a website that promotes Japanese food, design, fashion, and entertainment directly to Western audiences and the media via feature articles, interviews, trailers and previws.

Following on the topic of the morning's industry panel on fansubs, Kimura also took the time to present JETRO's official policy on fansubs. "Although fansubs helped promote anime, anime piracy is becomign an issue of concern," he noted. To this end, JETRO is working with the Association of Japanese Animators to prevent illegal content distribution. Educating users about piracy and warning them against it is critical.

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