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Japan’s Enduring Bond with Mumbai Highlighted at MIFF 2024

Mumbai: “Mumbai occupies a very special place in the Indo-Japan relationship. Mumbai is where it all began,” stated Toshihiro Kaneko, Chief Deputy Consul General of Japan in Mumbai, during a press conference at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) today. Kaneko underscored the deep-rooted connection between Japan and Mumbai, reflecting on the historical and contemporary significance of this relationship.

Kaneko highlighted the enduring cultural and economic ties between Japan and India, tracing back to the 19th century when the cotton trade first linked the two nations. These initial interactions have blossomed into a dynamic partnership encompassing various sectors, including high-speed rail and infrastructure development. He noted the presence of over 3,000 Japanese residents in South Mumbai, emphasizing the longstanding shipping trade routes that have connected Japan and India for many years.

Celebrating a decade-long partnership with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), Kaneko highlighted the significant influence of Japanese cinema at MIFF. This year, 11 Japanese films were showcased across diverse categories such as International Competition, the ‘Japanese Films’ section, Special Screening Package, and Mosaics. These films captivated audiences with their blend of traditional Japanese arts and contemporary storytelling techniques.

Kaneko emphasized the vibrant cultural exchange between Japan and India, showcasing Japan’s commitment to fostering artistic collaboration and strengthening the Indo-Japan bond through cinema and cultural initiatives. He also highlighted substantial subsidies from Japan’s Film Commission aimed at encouraging film productions in Japan, reinforcing the country’s appeal as a preferred filming destination.

“In the realm of animation, we see a fusion of traditional Japanese culture, such as Kabuki theatre techniques, enriching the visual narratives of contemporary films. This cultural exchange not only enhances artistic expression but also strengthens the bonds between our nations,” remarked Kaneko.

Kaneko proposed bolstered educational exchanges, advocating for Japanese technicians to collaborate with Indian students to impart specialized skills. He highlighted the importance of such initiatives in advancing India’s film industry. “From traditional beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism to contemporary interests like yoga, our nations continue to find common ground and enrich each other’s cultural tapestry,” he noted.

Expressing optimism about future collaborations, Kaneko urged filmmakers and producers to explore co-production opportunities and leverage Japan’s state-specific film commissions to facilitate seamless production experiences.

In addition to cinematic contributions, Japan’s presence at the festival extended to tourism promotion efforts, facilitated by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

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