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TOKYO — The Japan Film Commission Promotion Council, a government-backed network of 98 local film orgs, is set to be replaced by the Japan Film Commission in April 2009.

Speaking at the Tokyo Film Festival on Tuesday, JFCPC exec director Tetsuji Maezawa said the aim will be to “collect information on the Japanese film business and convey it to foreign producers who want to shoot in Japan.”

Too often, Maezawa explained, the word doesn’t get out.

” ‘The Last Samurai’ was shot mostly in New Zealand,” he said, “but if the producers had had better information about conditions here, they might have considered shooting in Japan.”

Barriers in the form of language and industry practices remain formidable, but Japan’s film commissions, which have sprouted like the proverbial bamboo shoots since the start of the decade, are getting better at overcoming them.

Some, like Tokyo Location Box, which assisted the producers of “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Babel” and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” now have impressive lists of credits.

But the need still exists, said Maezawa, for a central org to “promote Japan as a location to the outside world.”