The Japanese government has announced details of a proposed fund to support the production and export of local content.

Tentatively named the Overseas Contents Development Fund, the initiative aims to increase the export of Japanese films and animation, as well as strengthen ties with overseas buyers and producers.

The scope and size of the fund, supported by Prime Minister Taro Aso, is set to be determined this autumn in Japan’s parliament, the Diet.

An initial document suggested that the fund be used to acquire the overseas sales rights of locally-produced films and animation contents. It also proposed investing in foreign production and distribution companies in an effort to boost the profile of Japanese contents globally. However, details at this stage are vague.

Despite the recent overseas successes of Oscar-winners Departures and La Maison En Petits Cubes and festival hit Tokyo Sonata, as well as a stream of Hollywood adaptations of Japanese properties, export levels remain comparatively low.

According to figures published by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), sales of animation to the US decreased from $48.5m (Y4.8bn) in the peak year of 2003 to $28.3m (Y2.8bn) in 2007 and continues to slide downward.

Overseas sales of Japanese contents currently represent 3% of the country’s total export revenues. The cabinet secretariat has stated that the fund aims to eventually increase foreign sales of Japanese contents in line with North America’s 17% of total export revenues.

The fund is part of a larger set of initiatives tabled by Aso in January to support small and medium-sized businesses in Japan. Other proposals include updating the national IT infrastructure and increasing green energy production.