Japanese, Russian Heads to Discuss Joint Doraemon Anime (Updated)
posted on by Egan Loo
Not-So-Daily Link of the Day: The Jiji Press news source reports that Japanese Prime Minister Tarō Asō and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss a joint anime production starring the Japanese manga character Doraemon and the Russian folklore creature "Dorafey" on Saturday. The two leaders will be meeting in Peru this weekend with other world figures at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Kōmura had already appointed Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko's Doraemon robotic cat as Japan's first "anime cultural ambassador" in March. Doraemon is popular in Russia, and Medvedev's wife Svetlana joined a Doraemon film showing at the Japanese Embassy in Moscow last Sunday.
Asō successfully sought the post of prime minister this past September after serving as foreign minister from 2005 to 2007. Asō is well-known for his voracious manga-reading habits ("about 10 to 20 [manga magazines] a week") and for overseeing the first International Manga Awards. When Asō was foreign minister, his ministry increasingly used manga to communicate its message, particularly through specially commissioned Detective Conan manga pamphlets and complimentary copies of the Barefoot Gen manga at a nuclear non-proliferation meeting. He also called upon former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal to "read a little bit more" manga after Royal criticized manga for a perceived high degree of tolerance for expressions of violence and pornography.
Update: The Reuters and AFP news services report that acclaimed Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) criticized Asō during a Thursday news conference for overemphasizing his manga reading. When asked about the conservative minister's manga habit, Miyazaki said, "It's an embarrassment. That's something that should be done in private." Miyazaki also downplayed the use of Japanese entertainment to promote the country — as Aso has been advocating — and to raise Japan's youth. The director warned of nationalism by noting, "We learned from the last war that the town we love or the country we love can always turn into something bad to the world. I believe we must not forget what we learned."
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history