Recommend Manga Lists to be Drawn up for Foreign Countries; Local Specialists, Japanese Agency to Select 100 Titles Per Country

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Cultural Affairs Agency in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto.

To promote manga worldwide, the Cultural Affairs Agency has decided to create lists of 100 recommended manga for foreign libraries next fiscal year, which can be used as guidelines when purchasing manga for their collections. The lists will be tailor-made for each country.

To start, the agency will draw up lists for the United States, France and Spain before gradually increasing the number of countries.

Each list will be made in collaboration with local specialists in the relevant country. The agency will appoint five or so specialists per country, such as critics, translators and curators of museums that have organized manga exhibitions, and ask them to provide candidates. Based on the selection, the agency will finalize the list of 100 works. The agency is planning to use the lists to publicize manga to relevant organizations, such as the American Library Association, and make them accessible to libraries in foreign countries through symposiums and websites.

The recommended titles will be largely chosen from works that are readily available locally. But the agency also intends to include “hidden masterpieces” for the libraries to “discover.” The agency will also pay attention to the values of the respective country, particularly regarding levels of tolerance toward the depiction of violence and sex as well as religious and ethical issues.

“I hope [the lists will be made] with care so that it won’t be seen as forceful or imposing from Japan’s side,” said an official of the agency’s Cultural Economy and International Affairs Division.

According to the agency, global popularity of Japanese manga and anime increased thanks to “stay home” demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries in many countries are receiving more and more inquiries about Japanese manga from users. On the other hand, only a limited number of manga titles have received international recognition, and librarians’ knowledge about manga differs greatly from library to library. Apparently there are times where they cannot sufficiently inform users about manga. Therefore, the agency decided to create guidelines in the form of these lists.