Conversation at Quebec Government MRIF (August 31, 2015) ケベック州政府国際関係省での対話（2015年8月31日）
M. Etienne Baillargeon, Mme. Maude Cote, and M. Donald Leblanc エティエンヌ・バイヤルジョン氏、モード・コテ女史、ドナルド・ルブラン氏
On Monday, August 31, I visited the Ministry of International Relations and Francophonie (MRIF) at the Headquarter Building in Quebec city, where I was greeted by three officials in charge of Asia and Japan, M. Donald Leblanc (Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean Director), Mme Maude Cote (Chief of the Japan, Korea and Oceania Desk), and M. Etienne Baillargeon (Officer at the Japan, Korea and Oceania Desk). The main purpose of my visit was to exchange opinions and information with the Quebec officials about recent cultural activities concerning both Japan and Quebec.
First, in response to a surprisingly strong interest in Japan’s pop culture and the “Cool Japan” concept on the part of the Quebec officials, I tried to outline the recent strategy of the Japanese government to promote and support Japan’s popular culture such as anime, manga, games, films, fashion, design, cuisine, etc. for the purpose of marketing culture-related goods and services abroad as well as attracting foreign tourists to Japan in connection with the 2016 Summit in Mie Prefecture and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The timing and location for our discussion on this subject matter seemed perfect, as the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec near the Parliament Building (http://www.mnbaq.org/) was featuring the special exhibitions about Japan, “Inspiration Japan" (Japonism) and “Nippon-Fiction" (a Quebec artist’s traditional Japanese-style pop culture), which I enjoyed viewing, prior to my meeting at the Ministry. Then, we discussed possible ways to encourage the exchange of artists and creators between Japan and Quebec. As pointed out by the officials, a number of Quebec artists such as dance performers have visited Japan for a short stay supported by the Quebec government, but there has not been any such arrangement for Japanese artists to stay in Quebec supported by the Japanese government so far, and it might well be under consideration by the Japanese government in the context of the Cool Japan strategy, especially in some pop culture fields such as anime, manga, games, films, cuisine, etc.
Then our discussion led to a possibility of creating a kind of “matching site” as a platform to introduce artists and creators on one hand and sponsors and business people on the other to facilitate mutual exchange of information and possibly business interaction between Japan and Quebec. However, the important question about this idea is how to meet the “quality” and “legal” requirements for real collaboration between them across national boundaries. Our tentative conclusion was that as a first step professional organizations such as film industries in Japan and Quebec could be interested in creating a platform for more active interactions between Japanese and Quebec film industries. As a result of this kind of step-by-step approach, a more comprehensive, across-the-board matching platform for artists/creators and hosting/business organizations might emerge in the long run.
All this discussion took place within an hour just as scheduled, which implies how efficient the Quebec government, or at least the MRIF, operates, and I truly enjoyed talking with those three officials in such a friendly and productive manner, hoping that Japanese government officials could learn from them in this respect.