若い声
【An intern's thought 'Young people's Voice'】 "Cool Japan" as seen in Britain

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2015年3月24日 18:23 | 若い声

 My name is A.M and I am an intern working with Representative Taira's office. After living for 13 years in England, I returned to Japan as a student in 2013. As Representative Taira is State Minister of Cabinet Office in charge of the 'Cool Japan' initiative, I would like to share the realities of said initiative as I saw them in Britain, and would like to present my thinking on the future of the Cool Japan initiative.

 It was in the beginning of the 90's when magazines specialising in anime and manga was published in Britain. Up until that point, especially in Britain, the thinking that "comics are for children" was the norm. However a turning point came when in 2003 Director Hayao Miyazaki received many foreign awards, including the British Academy Film Awards, and this caused a great increase in people that started to show interest in Japanese anime and manga.

 Through the sudden increase in the potential market for anime and manga, many companies that specialise in the distribution, licensing and translation for these products were established. Over the years, anime and manga started to line even the shelves of non-specialist stores like Waterstone's and HMV. However, due to the cost of import, translation and licensing among others, it was more expensive than other entertainment content that existed in parallel with anime and manga. It was also around this time that internet usage was increasing, and this led to also an increase in pirated versions of anime and manga.

 For fans, they want to be able to access the same content at around the same timeframe as those in Japan, so many of them would illicitly translate them, add dialogue or subtitles and release them more or less for free online. Through this, as those that were properly licensed had a tendency to be more expensive, many companies that dealt with legitimate copies could not compete and were forced to shutdown. This resulted in a situation where those that were buying legitimate copies could not get legitimate access anymore and many were then forced to rely on pirated copies. While pirated copies would still fulfil the objective of Cool Japan to spread Japanese culture, it will not help the development of the content industry.

 I believe that in order to deal with this, is to make prices in Britain as close to Japan's. By cutting out distribution and translation middlemen, and by active usage of the internet, Japanese publishers could take a form very close to direct distribution. They should also make sure that the translated content is released on the same date as Japan's. These kind of initiative should be undertaken very quickly and extensively, but until the foreign markets for manga and anime has enlarged to a sufficient size, the government needs to help the industry as part of national policy.

 After Representative Taira was appointed as State Minister, the number of foreigners that makeup the Cool Japan Advisory Conference was increased. Through this, the gap between the products like Sake and pottery of Japan that they want to sell and what the locals want was achieved. I look forward to how the Cool Japan initiative could evolve to where Japanese content would further contribute to the trade balance of Japan.

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