It seems the time of Cool Japan, at least from an investment perspective, is coming to a close. At a Ministry of Finance subcommittee meeting on June 20, it was revealed that the Cool Japan Fund, a public/private fund set up by the Japanese government to invest in Japanese pop culture/industry initiatives overseas, is 30.9 billion yen (US$228.9 million) in debt.
Because of this debt, which has risen from 23.1 billion yen (US$171.1 billion) in the financial year 2020 to 30.9 billion yen (US$228.9 million) at the end of the financial year 2021, the Ministry of Finance's Fiscal System Council is considering a restructure of the Cool Japan Fund organization which may see the fund close.
The Cool Japan Fund began in November 2013 to promote Japan to the world and has seen the Japanese government invest more than 106.6 billion yen (US$789.6 million) into the organization. The fund has invested in anime companies around the world, including at one time being the majority investor in Sentai Holdings, LLC. The Cool Japan Fund not only invested in anime but also in food, fashion, games and more.
Issues with the fund have been raised through the years, with the Ministry of Finance highlighting a huge debt inside the organization last year due to COVID-19. The ministry approved a plan to limit debt to just 25.7 billion yen (US$190.3 million) this last fiscal year to help save the fund but saw the debt increase to 30.9 billion yen (US$228.9 million).
Some members of the ministry expect that as the world opens back up after COVID-19, the companies that Cool Japan has invested in will grow again, though others commented that the fund should close due to the limits not being met. A final plan will be devised by fall depending on the outcome of the next few months and if the fund will see growth.
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Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.