Japanese Task Force Calls Anime Museum 'Unnecessary'

posted on 2009-06-08 14:25 EDT
Government officials, creators debate 11.7-billion yen Media Arts Center plan

The project team established to end useless spending in the Japanese government has decided on Monday to call for the cancellation of the planned 11.7-billion-yen (about US$120 million) center for anime, manga, and other art forms because it is "unnecessary." The team said that the country's responsibilities for the center after its construction, as well as the materials that would be on display, have not been discussed enough. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had established this project team, even though LDP's own leader, Prime Minister Tarō Asō, is the most prominent proponent of the tentatively named National Media Arts Center. (Despite the English connotations of its name, the LDP is a conservative faction in Japan.) The center 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.

The LDP had proposed earmarks in the 2009 budget to fund the center's construction. However, Yukio Hatoyama of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had criticized the earmarks last month. Hatoyama described the planned center as a "national manga kissaten (café)" and asserted that Asō is trying to create his own bureaucracy for his interests. Asō had 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.

At a DPJ study group meeting on May 26, manga creator Kei Ishizaka criticized the planned center for vainly trying to attract visitors by "using government funds to hang up original manga drawings in picture frames." Ishizaka's I'm Home manga had won the Manga Division's Grand Prize in the government's 1999 Media Arts Festival. Manga creator Machiko Satonaka (Lady Ann) responded to this and other criticisms on Thursday by saying that the center is "urgently needed to preserve and restore our valuable original manga drawings from continuing degradation."

Source: Nikkan Sports, Mainchi Shimbun, Mainchi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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