Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, also an award-winning novelist, wants an institution established to translate contemporary Japanese literature to enable it to become popular overseas.

In a meeting earlier this week with Shizuka Kamei, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Masamine Sasaki, Cultural Affairs Agency chief, Ishihara said there is a need for accurate translations so foreign readers can better understand Japan.

“Translations of Japanese novels are often a far cry from the original texts,” the governor said, suggesting the institution should enlist foreign translators with a good command of Japanese and ask them to translate literature.

He also suggested that the envisioned body ask major foreign publishing houses to then publish the translated works.

Kamei said he will urge the government to allocate around 1 billion yen to establish the institute once the fiscal 2001 budget passes the Diet. About 90 billion yen is earmarked for the cultural agency in the budget.

Kamei also asked Sasaki to consider the proposal.

The LDP, the main party in the tripartite coalition, exerts strong influence over state budgetary policies.

Ishihara told reporters that although his proposal is not for a Tokyo government project, he asked Kamei to turn the plan into reality because Kamei had recently “boasted of increasing the budget for the agency.”

“This way of using tax money would much better serve the nation than building stupid shinkansen lines (in the Hokuriku and Kyushu regions),” Ishihara told reporters.

The governor, a former LDP lawmaker, used to belong to the same LDP faction as Kamei.

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