Media arts bill eyed to preserve manga and anime celluloids sought by foreign collectors

JIJI

A suprapartisan group of lawmakers plans to submit a bill to the Diet to legislate the building of a national media arts center to collect and store original editions of manga and anime cels to prevent them from being taken out of the country.

Japanese manga and anime celluloids have often become acquisition targets for foreign distributors thanks to their globally recognized high quality.

Keiji Furuya, chief of the House of Representatives Steering Committee and head of the group, said it is necessary to preserve them as “treasures of Japan” by setting up the center as soon as possible.

The Diet is set to open on Jan. 22.

A similar initiative was budgeted in 2009 under the administration of then-Prime Minister Taro Aso. But opposition parties criticized it as a project to build a “state-run manga cafe.” They also pointed out that facilities such as the Kyoto International Manga Museum already exist. Following a change of administration the same year, the ¥11.7 billion project was canceled.

The existing facilities, however, are constrained by copyright laws that work against the digitization of celluloid materials to prevent their deterioration, the group argued.

The bill for the proposed media arts center would make it a branch of the National Diet Library and thus free of such legal restrictions, the group explained.

The group also said that it intends to have the center allow free public access to its collection, hold exhibitions and provide hot information on events in various parts of the country, hoping that foreign tourists interested in Japanese manga and anime will visit there first.

If the Diet passes the bill, the manga center would be erected in Tokyo’s Akihabara district or somewhere nearby, it added.