TOKYO — The Japan Film Commission, an umbrella org for the 100-plus film commissions spread across the country, will launch in April, it was announced at the Japan Location Seminar on Wednesday in Tokyo.

The Japan Film Promotion Council provides English-language info on the film commissions, but it is understaffed and underfunded relative to the growing interest in shooting in Japan from abroad.

The council saw the need for a Japan-wide body back in 2006, when it launched a study chaired by Ken Terawaki, a former film critic and bureaucrat who now teaches at Kyoto U. of Art and Design. Study was backed by the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Finance, the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Japan Tourism Agency. 

The JFC will serve as clearinghouse for domestic and foreign producers needing location info, advice and support. Several local film commissions have extensive experience in dealing with foreign productions, including the Tokyo Location Box started by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. But the barriers to shooting in Japan remain formidable for foreigners, from clearing high permission hurdles to hiring local staff. 

— Mark Schilling