Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunka-Cho) is attending Cannes this year to talk up the subsidies that are available in Japan for international co-productions.

Since introducing a film promotion policy in 2003, the agency has $6.6m (Y800m) available annually to support production of domestic films. It now wants to alert international producers to the fact that co-productions with Japan are also eligible for the funds.

'We aim to promote Japanese culture abroad and also encourage cultural exchange through an exchange of film personnel,' says the agency's film specialist Saiki Tomonori.

Japan's production sector has been booming - last year local product had a 53.2% share - which makes it difficult to sell to the territory. But it doesn't have a strong tradition of co-producing with overseas partners. Bunka-cho says this may be changing as local budgets are escalating and producers are increasingly looking overseas for co-financing partners.

Bunka-cho offers production subsidies of at least $414,000 (Y50m) for eligible features - capped at one third of total production costs. The Japanese partner has to submit the application for subsidy, but there are no requirements on where the film shoots or the percentage of Japanese cast and crew.

The agency has already put money into Canadian-Italian-Japanese co-production Silk, directed by Francois Girard and starring Keira Knightley, and three co-productions with China including Zhang Yibai's Longest Night In Shanghai.

It also has an annual $3.8m (Y460m) for distribution of Japanese films, both at home and overseas, and $827,000 (Y100m) to support local product at film festivals. It supported both the production and subtitling costs of Naomi Kawase's The Mourning Forest which is playing in competition here at Cannes.