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Fest head Tokuma a powerful player

Yasuyoshi Tokuma remains firmly in charge of the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival. Tokuma, chairman of the event, is hardly a figurehead – he’s among the leaders in Japan’s film and media industry, and the reach of the 13 media-related companies that he runs is truly global in scale.

His first and most prominent company is Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. Ltd., which he founded in 1954 after working as a reporter for a local newspaper. The upstart company now publishes 2.6 million books and 4.8 million copies of 50 magazines each month.

Tokuma Shoten also produces videos and is best known for its animated films – perhaps the best known of which is “Kiki’s Special Delivery Services,” which had the largest audience of any animated film in Japan in 1989. Two other animated features – “Porco Ross” (The Crimson Pig) and “Pompoko” – also earned spots as the highest-grossing Japanese animated films for 1992 and 1994, respectively.

Tokuma’s film activities are not limited to animation, nor to Japan. For nearly 20 years, he has enjoyed a special relationship with the Chinese film industry. In his former position as president of major Japanese film studio Daiei Co. Ltd., he hosted the Chinese Film Festival and also the Japan-Chinese Film Festival in order to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries. More recently, he translated this interest into investment in Chinese film.

For example, he co-produced “Dunhuang” with the Chinese in 1988. More notably, Tokuma produced the Zhang Yimou film “Ju Dou,” which received the first Luis Bunuel Prize at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival in 1990 and was also nominated in the foreign language film category at the 1991 Academy Awards.

He also produced “Kodayu” in cooperation with a Russian production company in 1992.

Another company, Tokuma Japan Corp., produces and promotes the albums of such top-selling Japanese recording artists and talents as Hiroshi Istuki, Masao Sen and Mayo Okamoto.

Tokuma also is a member of the board of directors of both the Japan Book Publishers Assn. and the Japan Record Assn. In addition, he’s an executive member of the board of the Japan Magazine Assn.

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