A few days after it stood by as the anime industry was humiliatingly singled out for a ban, the Japanese government is now announcing a plan to quadruple anime and game exports.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, historically notorious for interfering with any industry it thinks it can run better than the private sector, has decreed that as part of its “Cool Japan” strategy the nation’s content industries will increase their exports fourfold by 2020.
The very cool sounding “Cool Japan Public-Private Advisory Council” is looking to oversee an increase in “cultural” exports (singling out content industries such as anime and games, as well as fashion and food) of between 2 to 4 times, to as much as 200 billion dollars from the current 50 billion. It expects anime, games and so forth to account for some 35 billion dollars of this total.
It estimates the total size of the global market for such “cultural” goods will double in the same period, to 11 trillion dollars.
The scheme would see affected industries forced to endure “public-private partnerships” (i.e. businesses doing what civil servants tell them to, or else) in pursuit of growth, a strategy which has been the cornerstone of Japanese industrial policy in the post-war period, with mixed results – most notably, the ministry’s predecessor actually tried to stop Sony from producing electronics and Honda from producing cars.
Successful animation, comic and gaming industries are of course not known for state involvement – quite the contrary in fact.
Having Japan’s incompetent yet depressingly numerous civil servants and politicians try to take over the anime and game industries may in fact be the last thing they need, particularly with the state’s main interest in these industries so far being nothing but a series of efforts to ban and censor them, or bully them into “voluntary restraints.”
Coming just after the publishing industry was subjected to humiliating treatment at the hands of Tokyo’s government, it does seem likely that the ministry will find the industry less than welcoming at this stage – and what better way to start the plan off than by the cancellation of the Tokyo International Anime Fair?