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Planned Anime Museum Panned as 'National Manga Café' (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Japanese opposition member criticizes 11.7-billion-yen construction cost

Yukio Hatoyama of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has criticized the proposed 2009 budget earmarks for the construction of an anime museum. Hatoyama asserted on Saturday night that Prime Minister Tarō Asō is proposing the museum because "Asō likes anime" and therefore is trying to create his own bureaucracy for his interests. Hatoyama added, "Simply put, it's a national manga kissaten (café). Such an enormous waste is very foolish."

The government is planning the museum as a place to exhibit anime, manga, films, and other forms of culture. The plan aims to attract 600,000 visitors to the proposed construction site at Tokyo's artificial island of Odaiba. 11.7 billion yen (US$118 million) is being allocated from the current year's budget for the construction costs. The museum is part of Asō's larger proposal to use his country's "soft power" in anime, manga, and similar areas of culture to create jobs and reverse the economic downturn.

Asō has used anime as an example of cultural exchange since he was foreign minister, before he was elevated to his country's top post last September. Asō told the audience at October's 21st Tokyo International Film Festival, only half-jokingly, that he is apparently more well known in Japan for being a manga geek than prime minister. Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki has criticized Asō's public emphasis on his manga reading and downplayed the use of Japanese entertainment to promote the country and to raise its youth.

Source: Sankei Shimbun

Update: Ichiro Ozawa is reportedly planning to step down as the head of DPJ on Monday. As DPJ's Secretary General, Hatoyama is one of the top contenders as Ozawa's replacement. The DPJ is hoping to gain seats in the next parliamentary elections, since Asō and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (the relatively conservative party of Japan) is facing low poll numbers.

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