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The Japanese film industry released 615 films last year, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. That figure may include glorified student productions and dressed-up pornography, but is still substantial by any measure. Relatively few of those films, however, are sold abroad.

Even in the world cinema centers of London, Paris and New York, Japanese films seldom appear on regular theater schedules, while in Asian markets where Japanese films find a friendlier reception releases are usually small and profits, paltry.

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