A meeting of the Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal System Council’s revealed an improvement plan for the Cool Japan Fund, a public/private fund set up by the Japanese government to invest in Japanese pop culture/industry initiatives overseas. The aim is to bring it into profit by the fiscal year ending March 2025, otherwise it will be closed down.
This grim outlook for the fund comes after it was revealed that the entire investment fund is currently 30.9 billion yen (US$218.4 million) in deficit back in June when the council first established that investments from the fund have performed poorly during COVID-19 and something must be done.
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$753.5 million) into the organization with 24 private sector companies investing 10.7 billion yen (US$75 million). 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, totaling 56 investments across the world.
Asahi Shimbun reports that 1 billion yen (US$7.06 million) went to Anime Consortium Japan, which created the streaming platform Daisuki, and 4.4 billion yen (US$31.10 million) went to create WakuWaku Japan, a satellite pay television that serviced South East Asia featuring content about Japan. Cool Japan Fund cites Netflix and other streaming services as a major reason why these services didn’t pan out.
Both companies had their public shares bought out by private companies, with them, alongside other investments losing the Japanese government 6 billion yen ($42.41 million).
The Ministry of Finance is looking to broaden its investments and away from just promoting Japanese culture to the world.
If the Cool Japan Fund doesn’t become profitable by March 2025, despite the new improvement plan, it will be either shut down completely or merged back into the Ministry of Finance and likely forgotten.
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Daryl Harding is a Senior 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.