Editor’s Note: The image Yamada Taro is holding up is the mascot for the “Manga, anime, game forum” at Meiji University. It is not involved with the story, though the whole image comes from a video of Yamada discussing the bill.
Japanese “otaku politician” Yamada Taro and other Japanese politicians have drafted a bi-partisan bill designed to create “The National Center of Art and Media” to preserve art and media. This would include manga and anime.
Kai-You and On Takahashi reports that the bill (which has been dubbed the Manga Bill” will create the means to archive and protect Japanese media- such as art, film, music; and of course, anime and manga.
This comes after the Kyoto Animation arson attack and the flooding of Kawasaki City Museum. While Kyoto Animation’s older work was not damaged, they stated “If the server had been damaged, then works that have been accumulated for nearly 40 years, those precious materials about the work would be forever lost.” They also stated their desire for the bill to pass, with a representative stating it is “very important to us.” Kawasaki City Museum lost over 260,000 pre-war comics and art pieces during typhoon Hagibis in October 2019.
Along with Yamada, other politicians from the “Manga, Anime, Game Parliamentary Federation” have helped create and support the bill. The federation is a bi-partisan group akin to a committee, chaired by Junji Furuya of the Liberal Democratic Party (the same party as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe).
While it seems this should have a lot of support, On Takahashi (CEO of adult independent magazine translation publisher Irodori Comics, who broke the story in English) had doubts.
“After the tragedy that was the KyoAni arson attack, you’d expect something like this to pass instantly, right?” On tweeted. “But that’s where the current problem lies. Politicians have “milked” the KyoAni incident enough that they’re moving onto “other issues”. Yamada has claimed that if this bill doesn’t pass the vote on Dec 9th, it is most likely going to be scrapped.”
Speaking with On directly, he explained how December 9th is when Japanese Diet (the equivalent of the US Congress) will close until the new year.
“Any bill that isn’t passed this year, cannot use this year’s budget,” On explains. “Any bills passed next year will be done under next year’s budget. But because of the “priority” of things, the “smaller national projects” get pushed to the tail end of the year. While “Big policies” that use up big portions of the budget are used earlier in the year.”
“And next year is most likely going to be voting time for the House of Representatives. Which means that the current administration will be using big parts of the budget that appease their voter base (mainly farmers and people in rural areas). Which further lowers the chance of the Manga Museum.” On also explained with the upcoming Japanese Olympic games, elections would likely be held in early or late 2020. This means politicians would be busy with re-election efforts, and may avoid bi-partisanship to avoid “looking weak”.
In his Twitter thread On explains how, prior to hard-drives being cheaper, many Japanese creators never kept their original files- even larger organizations like game developer Square Enix.
“Because in reality, Japanese companies and creators don’t exactly do a stellar job of keeping their data. You’ve all heard of stories of Square Enix “losing” the source code for FF7 and FF8.
You might be shocked at Square losing the code for one of their most famous games, but episodes like this aren’t rare. There are reasons why some manga never make it overseas. Because a lot of artists just “lost” their data.
For older works, artists and mangaka never considered foreign publication. So once they’ve made the work and submitted their data to the JP publisher, a lot of them deleted the files to “free up space on their PC”. This was before hard drives were cheap.
So years later, when foreign publishers approach the artists for their data to localize it, a lot of them say “Sorry, I can’t seem to find it.” or “Oh yeah, I deleted that.” Even with Irodori Comics there are cases where artists just don’t have the data.“
Due to how prone Japan is to natural disasters (typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis), On hopes that the bill does pass. “For politicians, “preserving something old” is a lot less sexier than “creating something new”, but I hope they come to their senses to see what is really needed in Japan.”
You can find a video of Yamada discussing the bill (in Japanese) here.