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The Cultural Affairs Agency has decided to build a pop-art center in Tokyo aimed at promoting animated films, “manga” and game software, agency officials said Sunday.

The officials said they hope the facility, expected to open in two to three years, will give a boost to popular art and related industries, and become a tourist spot attracting foreign visitors.

The agency hopes the project will spawn a new area on a par with Tokyo’s Akihabara district, known as a center of Japanese animation culture.

Funding for the project is to be covered by the government’s supplementary budget for the fiscal year that began in April. The government has allocated ¥11.7 billion for the project.

The center will be a four- to five-story building with total floor space of 10,000 sq. meters. It will house a museum to display frames of animated films and game software, and will accommodate movie theaters, the officials said.

The facility will conduct research on such subjects as the history of animation and hold presentations on pop art as well as invite movie producers to screen their new titles.

The agency hopes the area will attract about 600,000 visitors a year.

The location has yet to be decided, but the agency is eyeing a spot in Odaiba on the Tokyo waterfront.

The land will be owned by the National Museum of Art, while operations will be contracted out to a private organization, the officials said.

The agency assembled a panel of experts last August to discuss the project amid calls for a new government-funded facility dedicated to Japanese pop culture.

Overseas promotion

JIJI The government is working out details on a plan to establish an investment fund by this autumn aimed at promoting “manga,” “anime,” films and other content abroad.

One idea is for the fund to obtain money from a public-private body the government will launch in July to finance new businesses and reorganization, informed sources said.

The fund will acquire overseas marketing rights from production companies and creators. It will then invest in publishers of foreign-language versions of manga content or projects to produce foreign-language versions of Japanese films and television programs, the sources said.

Besides providing financial support for production of foreign-language versions of Japanese content, the fund will pay attention to copyright management.

While Japanese content is earning an international reputation, the content industry earned only 1.9 percent of its sales abroad in 2004, far smaller than 17 percent for its U.S. counterpart, according to the Cabinet secretariat.

Through the new fund, Japan aims to raise the rate to the U.S. level, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The government intends to appoint the fund’s executives from the private sector and leave investments decisions entirely up to them.

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