An advisory body to the Japanese government has drafted a report calling for wide-ranging government support of content businesses, including films.
Headed by Ushio Electric chairman Jiro Ushio, the Contents Special Survey Committee will formally issue the report in March of next year and expects its recommendations to become law by the 2004 fiscal year. Among the main ones are:
*Promote the development of a completion bond system on the US model, through changes in current regulations and with the backing of government-related financial institutions. Also, expand lending from such institutions to contents businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized companies that cannot easily get bank financing.
* Liberalise the current Commodity Fund Law to make it easier for film companies to raise financing through film funds targeted at ordinary investors.
* Reduce or eliminate fixed asset taxes on film studios and other production facilities. Also institute tax incentives to attract foreign investment to the Japanese film industry.
* Establish a graduate school for educating producers and other contents industry professionals, with the backing of government and industry. Also, support foreign students and scholars who wish to study contents-related fields in Japan.
* Promote the sales of Japanese contents abroad by supporting submissions to foreign film festivals and visits of foreign buyers to films festivals and markets in Japan.
The Japanese content market currently generates nearly $102 billion annually. Foreign sales, however, currently account for a mere 3% of the total. In its report the Committee noted that if the government is to achieve its goal of the doubling the size of the content industry over the next decade, "it is essential to actively expand abroad."