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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 13:42 05/23/2007
News Review #396: May 23, 2007

Japan Invents "Nobel Prize" for Manga Comics

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

Japan Invents "Nobel Prize" for Manga Comics
Reuters (5/22/2007)

Aso Announces 'Manga' Award for Foreign Artists
The Japan Times (5/23/2007)


It sounds like a "cool" idea for Japan to create a "Nobel prize" for manga comic artists. In fact, as reported in Reuters and other media articles, Foreign Minister Aso has announced that the government is setting up the "International Manga Award" for the purpose of enhancing the image of Japan as a soft-power nation with flourishing pop culture. He reportedly said that "we want to make it something like a Nobel prize, although prize money won't be that big." Literally, this should imply that the government would give out some award money, if not as much as a million dollars in the Nobel prize case.

As reported in the Japan Times article (listed above), however, it has turned out that there is no prize money, but award winners will be invited to Tokyo to spend ten days interacting with Japanese comic artists. If that is all, there is no point in government involvement in the first place. Instead, private organizations can do it, possibly with some public support, such as Japan Foundation grants. It is such an old fashioned bureaucratic idea that the government could somehow authorize or dignify private activities by giving out official recognition awards, and that is particularly foreign to pop culture like manga comics.

Hopefully, such media reports as the one in Reuters, quoting Mr. Aso's misleading statement, will not make foreign comic artists believe that there would be some prize money, if awarded, and only to be disappointed later. In this respect, the Japan Times article should be helpful in clarifying the point, which Foreign Minister Aso was vague about, whether deliberately or not.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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