Japan Aims to Open Manga Museum Before 2020 Olympics

Japan Aims to Open Manga Museum Before 2020 Olympics

Japanese lawmakers have formed a caucus to plan a Manga National Center that would open as early as spring of 2020, just before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As part of the Cool Japaninitiative, the project will feature a museum with manga, anime, and games. The museum will serve as a branch of the existing National Diet Library.

Japan Aims to Open Manga Museum Before 2020 Olympics
Japan Aims to Open Manga Museum Before 2020 Olympics
The game plan: Installation view of 'Manga * Anime * Games From Japan' at The National Art Center, Tokyo. | NATIONAL ART CENTER, TOKYO

In addition to displaying manga, anime, and games, the proposed museum would train creators, hold events, and collect information. The National Diet Library has already been preserving Japanese works as a whole as part of its charter.

Chairman Keiji Furuya leads the nonpartisan caucus of parliamentarians from several parties, including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the rival Democratic Party of Japan (which is merging with the Japan Innovation Party to form the Minshinto party this year.) The caucus also includes former prime minister Tarō Asō, a well-known manga fan who previously advocated a national media arts center with a focus on manga and anime.

The group projects that the museum will cost 10 billion yen (about US$100 million), and aims to minimize government expenditures by accepting funds from the private sector. The caucus plans to form a formal committee and revise the current law on the National Diet Library to include the Manga National Center in the 2017 ordinary Diet session.

Meiji University has already been developing a tentatively titled Tokyo International Manga Library, although it has been delayed from its planned 2014 opening. The university plans to house two million items of manga, anime, games, and other media in the proposed archive at its Surugadai campus in the central Tokyo ward of Chiyoda. Some of the caucus members are considering collaborating with the university on the proposed museum.

The Japanese national government, under former prime minister Asō, had planned a different, earlier project called the National Media Arts Center — which is better known by its nickname, “the anime hall of fame.” However, after Asō’s Liberal Democratic Party was removed from power for the first time in over 15 years, the succeeding prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and his Democratic Party of Japan cancelled the controversial project. Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Tatsuo Kawabata said that the new government “would rather focus on fostering human resources, including creators, who will contribute to promoting media arts.” The Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in 2012.

The city of Kyoto south of Tokyo has had its Kyoto International Manga Museum since 2006. Although not strictly a manga library, visitors can pay 800 yen (about US$7 with student discounts available) a day to enter the museum and read books from its collection.

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