Published On: Sun, Nov 20th, 2016

Cosplay organization receives grant from Tokyo’s Ota Ward

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TOKYO — If you’ve got an interest in Japanese animation and/or politics, you may recall that in the spring of 2015, Minoru Ogino was chosen as the head of the ward council for Tokyo’s Ota Ward. Not only is Ogino a huge anime fan, the Japanese word for “ward” is “ku,” which makes him an otaku representing Ota Ku.

Over a year later, Ogino is still doing his best to serve his constituents, and is hard at work getting ready for the 70th anniversary celebration of the founding of Ota Ward, which will take place in 2017. Part of his duties include dealing with requests for government subsidies and grants from organizations participating in the festivities, as well as documenting the decisions that have been made so that the public stays informed.

Ogino’s fellow anime lovers were happy to notice that listed in the latest report is a group called the International Cosplay Popularization Council, involved in organizing cosplay events in Ota Ward, which is receiving a 350,000-yen (US$3,400) grant from the Ota Ward government. This isn’t a development Ogino is trying to keep out of the spotlight, either, as he spoke proudly of it in a recent message sent through his official Twitter account.

“I’m not sure how much I can, but to the extent possible, I want to help make use of the power that otaku have, not just in cosplay, but also in the fields of economics, local revitalization, education, culture, and multicultural exchange.”

There’s more to the statement than just otaku daydreaming, as Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood has gone from a dreary dead zone to an international tourist destination by doubling down on its otaku appeal, and the city of Nagoya has raised its international profile through hosting the World Cosplay Summit.

And in case some see Ota Ward’s cosplay grant as frivolous use of taxpayer money, Ogino clarified the administration’s stance with:

“Cosplay is a form of expression, a part of culture, and a tool for energizing the community.”

The council head further expressed his hope that promoting cosplay in his jurisdiction would lead to a greater understanding of the otaku lifestyle and acceptance of the individuals who choose to lead it.

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