On paper, the Japanese government supports the arts, which are considered important vehicles for promoting Japanese culture globally, enhancing the country’s image as a tourist destination and stimulating declining regional economies. But, where does the content for Japan’s increasing number of art festivals actually come from? There are no national mechanisms for supporting individual artists, with funding programs primarily aimed at institutions and community initiatives.

A couple of factors contributing to a rise in contemporary art in Japan may be economic precarity and a desire for greater freedom in choosing when to work, rather than increased government support. Though the number of full-time employees has increased by 760,000 compared to 2016, as reported in the Nikkei Asian Review earlier this month, the general trend since the mid 1980s has been rising non-regular employment, according to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications statistics.

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