Cool Japan Fund Appoints Sony Music Entertainment's Naoki Kitagawa as New CEO

posted on by Karen Ressler
Yūji Katō also steps up as senior managing director, chief information officer

Cool Japan Fund Inc., the public-private company that the Japanese government employs to fund projects as part of its "Cool Japan" program, plans to hold a board meeting on June 29 to appoint Naoki Kitagawa as the company's new CEO. In addition, Yūji Katō is expected to assume the roles of senior managing director and chief information officer. Because the company is government-funded, the appointments must be approved by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The current CEO Nobuyuki Ota, who has held the position since the company's founding in November 2013, is stepping down. Ota previously worked in the fashion industry, serving as CEO of the Issey Miyake brand.

Kitagawa was previously CEO of Sony Music Entertainment (SME), where he now serves as Vice President Corporate Adviser. (As SME is the parent company for Aniplex, Kitagawa is credited as executive producer on a number of television anime and anime films.) Katō has had a long career as an investment banker.

Nikkei reported in November that Cool Japan Fund Inc. was underperforming in many of its investments, in particular projects that were spurred by business ties from company's leadership, including Ota and Chairman Kazunobu Iijima.

"Cool Japan" is a program supported by the Japanese government and various companies that promotes modern Japanese culture such as anime and manga abroad. The program revolves around the premise that Japan's strength in business and international affairs lies in anime, manga, films, fashion, and other fields of Japanese arts and entertainment content.

The Japanese Finance Ministry allotted 45.9 billion yen (about US$403 million) in funding for the "Cool Japan" program for its 2017 fiscal year, a 22% increase from last year.

Sources: Animation Business Journal (Tadashi Sudo), Senken Shimbun

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