Kochi Prefecture in western Japan, which has produced many famous manga artists, recently launched a project to boost the animation industry by setting up a remote working base to establish the region's reputation as a locus for anime and manga.

The Kochi prefectural government, together with three municipal governments and Kochi Shinkin Bank, are working to attract firms in the animation industry to set up satellite offices locally, enabling creators to work remotely even while away from major cities such as Tokyo.

A meeting is held on Jan. 20, 2022, to launch a project to boost Kochi Prefecture's animation industry. (Kyodo)

As part of the plan, a satellite office base will be set up in Kochi city in the first half of this year to provide support for attracting companies in the animation industry, and creating an environment where creators can work remotely.

An animation festival inviting creators from around Japan is slated for 2023, with the region also to be promoted internationally as a hub for anime at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka.

Located on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, Kochi Prefecture has produced famous manga artists such as Ryuichi Yokoyama, Takashi Yanase, Taira Hara and Rieko Saibara.

Building on this legacy, the prefecture has hosted the annual Manga-Koshien competition -- the comic version of the National High School Baseball Championship in Hyogo Prefecture -- since 1992, attracting young aspiring manga artists from around the country every year. In recent years, students from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have also joined the event.

In July 2012, the Kochi prefectural government established a committee to promote the region as a "manga kingdom" in collaboration with the private sector.

More recently, the western Japan prefecture was also the setting for "Belle," a Japanese animated film by director Mamoru Hosoda that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last summer.

"Kochi has a strong commitment to manga, and this animation project is more than convincing. We hope firms in (animation) related industries will gather here," said Kochi Gov. Seiji Hamada at a meeting to launch the project on Jan. 20.

Katsunori Namifusa, president of a Tokyo-based regional development and production firm known as World Eggs, said Kochi has the potential to become a prominent regional city like Cannes in France.

"I hope Kochi's animation festival will come to be like the Cannes Film Festival," he said.