Japan, small public cultural institutions are in difficulty

The total budget of this agency created in 1968 and remaining an external body of the broad Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), should reach 135 billion yen (nearly 839 million euros). But the increase is, in truth, entirely relative. Because as the daily notes Yomiurithis budget remains more than ten times lower than the French cultural budget and much lower, even, than that of South Korea: “In 2022, the budget of the Cultural Affairs agency was even less than that of the University of Tokyo! » In 2021, it barely represented 0.11% of the Japanese national budget (compared to 1.23% in South Korea and 0.79% in France). The Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan actually pursues two priority goals: to protect national heritage assets and treasures and to promote Japanese arts, language and culture in Japan and abroad.

It is for this reason that 70% of the agency’s civil servants were transferred in May 2023 to Kyoto (the Kansai region is home to half of the national treasures), as part of decentralization and regional revitalization. The Agency also supports the Japan Arts Fund, which subsidizes a host of cultural projects – nothing that is enough, however. Public and private actors alike: all are turning to the private sector, which is more responsive and financially more powerful. In Tokyo, the disappearance, in mid-2023, of 3331 Arts Chiyoda – a privately funded venue in a public space, closed until an indefinite date – which had become one of the nerve centers of the new Tokyo scene, illustrates the general uncertainty, the absence of a strong policy that would support the youngest creators. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for the establishment of a “virtuous circle” in favor of the worlds of art and culture… while waiting for budgets to increase.

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