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Japan Gives Cash-Strapped Toon Houses Cash

In an effort to help its local industry produce another global sensation, the Japanese government is offering financial support to cash-strapped animation houses, reports THE JAPAN TIMES.

Anime imports into the U.S. has grown from 23 in the 1980s to 42 in the 1990s and has already reached 40 during the four years through 2003, according to a survey by the government-affiliated Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). The organization also found that the anime market in the U.S. is worth $4.36 billion, which is 3.2 times the value of Japanese exports of steel products.

'Trade follows the films' is what people in the U.S. entertainment business often say about the impact of the film industry on other businesses," said Shingo Nagai, head of business exports at JETRO. "We can say the same thing when we talk about Japan's animation industry."

For example, POKEMON has garnered an estimated 2 trillion yen ($18.5 million) in sales of videos, games, character goods and related products, according to a July 2003 report released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

However, many animation houses in Japan have been taken advantage of by TV stations that drum down prices, delay payment and even usurp copyrights from content creators. The Japanese government revised laws in April 2004 to help financing, education and overseas market information. As part of the new government initiative, 500 million yen ($4.6 million) will be invested into an international market to help connect local producers with buyers abroad.

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