Utilize potential of cultural arts to bring communities together

The Yomiuri ShimbunCultural arts play a role in making people feel at ease while also bringing communities together. As such shouldn’t their potential be utilized? It would be advisable to use the upcoming House of Councillors election as an opportunity to think about such matters anew.

Many cases exist that show theatrical and musical performances, as well as works of art and cultural assets, can be considered to be useful resources for society.

A Saitama Prefecture-based theatrical company established by theater director Yukio Ninagawa consists of members who are in their twilight years. Despite its members having little acting experience, the troupe continues to produce dramas by holding tough rehearsals and giving performances on stage.

Many people may be encouraged when they see elderly people expressing themselves with such vigor.

An increasing number of exhibitions and events showcasing the creative activities of disabled people have also been shown to the public. More than a few of the paintings and sculptures created by such people have been praised for their high degree of artistic quality. It is safe to say that such activities are functioning as a precious point of contact between people with disabilities and society.

The Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design in Toyama has a roof garden offering panoramic views of the Tateyama mountain range. Visitors, who can access the garden free of charge, can enjoy works of contemporary art in a relaxed environment. The museum has received wide praise for attracting a large number of visitors by bringing art and the lives of citizens together.

As the aging of Japan’s population continues to advance, an increasing number of elderly people are expected to live alone. There is no doubt that some elderly people can ease their loneliness by coming into contact with culture.

Promote cultural exports

In its election promise, Komeito has said it will work to facilitate each community by utilizing cultural assets. Each political party is advised to further debate cultural policies conducive to building stronger bonds in communities and producing a sense of security among them.

Efforts have also been made to rediscover cultural assets in various places that have so far received little attention, so they can be utilized for such purposes as the promotion of regional development.

The Japan Heritage list of cultural assets designated by the Cultural Affairs Agency constitutes an attempt to write stories about the heritage in various places to have these assets appreciated. The list comprises more than 80 such assets, including a stone-paved mountain path in the Hakone area used by travelers during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Utilizing such heritage to promote regions is expected to produce such economic effects as an increase in tourist numbers.

Promoting culture and art as an exportable commodity is also a promising policy measure.

Although the government is striving to advance its Cool Japan Strategy, a plan aimed at promoting Japanese culture overseas, it is not necessarily making progress.

Japanese manga and animated films have attracted worldwide attention, while rakugo storytellers have staged performances for U.S. and European audiences and received favorable responses. Ingenuity will be required to utilize the widespread popularity of Japanese culture overseas.

In improving the substance of cultural policies, it is important to support people in charge of promoting Japanese culture.

Necessary measures include fostering successors in traditional performing arts and individuals who can preserve and restore cultural properties. Improving the working conditions of those engaged in producing animated films is another necessary measure. Supporting such efforts in the development of human resources is indispensable.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 14, 2019)Speech


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