'Cool Japan' pop culture academies to open in Asia

Posted at 07/03/14 11:08 AM

TOKYO - Major Japanese publishing house Kadokawa Corp. said Wednesday it will open academies in East and Southeast Asia, starting with Taiwan and Singapore this fall, to teach the animation and design skills at the core of Japanese pop culture.

Kadokawa plans to open 10 schools in as many countries and regions, including Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia, by 2016.

The schools are set to ride a wave of pop culture exports under the government-sponsored "Cool Japan" strategy. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry opened an office devoted to the concept in 2010.

Kadokawa Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa said in unveiling the plan that the academies are expected to turn out 30,000 graduates within 10 years.

"We are hopeful this will lead to the birth of human resource networks," he said.

In Taiwan, a standalone school is set to open in September with around 200 students, while in Singapore courses will be offered in partnership with a local university.

The courses in animation, illustration, light novel writing, voice acting and character design will be modeled after those at the Kadokawa Contents Academy in Tokyo, with the instructors initially dispatched from Japan.

Chu Wen-ching, director of the Taipei Culture Center at Taiwan's de facto embassy in Tokyo, said the new academy will be a great help to the development of Taiwan's content industry.

"I look forward to Taiwan producing the next (renowned animator) Hayao Miyazaki," Chu said.

Many of Kadokawa's productions, such as the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya multimedia series, have large fan bases in Asia and further abroad.