Keeping up on Japanese politics is tough (especially if you're already trying to keep up on your own country's), but it's been interesting to watch the controversy of Taro Aso's "Anime Hall of Fame," as it's been dubbed. Self-professed manga fan and Prime Minister Taro Aso proposed a building to honor Japanese animation, believing that the increasing global popularity of Japanese entertainment may be a way to for country to gain power and perhaps stabilize its economy, maybe even challenging America's pop culture hegemony.
But the opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan (not to be confused with Aso's own party, the Liberal Democratic Party), has long derided the project, calling it a "national manga cafe" and a waste of money. Now DPJ adviser Hirohisa Fujii, who is expected to become the minister of finance if the DPJ takes power in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, has said it outright
: if the DPJ comes into power, they will scrap funding for the so-called "anime hall of fame." From the Mainichi:
Prime MinisterTaro Aso
"It's dirty. Why are such funds needed for the emergency economic package?" said Fujii. Clearly stating that he would stop budget funds being used for the center if his party takes power, Fujii promised to transfer the funds to unemployment measures as well as nursing and medical care in the second supplementary budget.
As anime fans it's easy to look at this and go "man, that sucks! It's obvious that anime and manga are Japan's biggest pop-culture exports ever, why shouldn't they support it?" On the other, try to consider from a non-geek's point of view: what if Obama decided to spend a whole bunch of money that could be spent on funding programs to help people in order to build, say, a comic book hall of fame? It'd be a tough sell to most people. I personally don't know where I stand on the matter-- I do think that making use of the worldwide otaku boom could be good for Japan in the long run, but with everyone's economy's hurting, it might not be the right time to spend a lot of money to do it, especially since the actual *sales* of anime worldwide aren't so high.What do you think?