News in March that 38-year-old Chiaki Soma had suddenly been removed from the post of program director of Festival/Tokyo, which she had held since it started in 2009, set many theater lovers worrying about the future of the flagship drama event whose stature at home and abroad had only grown with her at the helm.

Finally, in July, the new team running F/T held a press conference led by Soma's successor, Sachio Ichimura, who in 2000 founded the nonprofit Arts Network Japan that has organized the festival since it started. Declaring that Festival/Tokyo would no longer also be known as F/T, Ichimura, 65, vowed to set the November event on a new course.

Specifically, he said, the system where one artistic director selected the performers to be invited would be abolished. Instead, a seven-member committee would fulfil that key role — and it may also change the event's name from Festival/Tokyo in the future, he added.