Art museums should not sell products made in Japan, as they have become a popular tourist attraction and are increasingly a source of revenue for Japanese companies, an art historian has said.
“The art museum is a cultural center, it should not be selling art products made by Japanese companies,” said Yasuo Nakamura, who teaches Japanese at the University of Tokyo.
The Japanese government has been promoting tourism to the country and is offering Japanese art as part of the national cultural heritage.
Art museums have long been a source for money for Japanese firms, as the Japanese are seen as the most innovative people in the world and they can also attract international talent.
But the number of Japanese art museums has grown rapidly in recent years.
Many are located in the southern prefecture of Hokkaido, where the Hokkaidō Museum and the Hachiyama Museum are the only ones in the country.
The Hachijo Museum, in the northern prefecture, has been attracting more visitors from overseas since it opened in 2013.
A study commissioned by the Japanese government in April this year found that Japanese companies made more than 300 million yen ($5.7 million) in sales from foreign artists between 2013 and 2016.
The study said that Japanese art companies have created more than 70,000 jobs in Hokkami and Shikoku since the 1990s, and that more than 500 Japanese companies have established branches in other prefectures around the country, including Iwate and Chiba.
“I believe the art museum should not have anything to do with Japanese companies making art,” Nakamura said.
However, in May, a parliamentary committee approved a motion that would allow the Japanese art market to become part of Japan’s national cultural policy.
The motion was approved in the same month that Japan hosted the Olympic Games.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the time that Japan would create an “international art museum” to bring foreign artists together.
The proposal has attracted criticism, however, from the Art Industry Council of Japan, which said it had raised concerns about potential economic and cultural harm.
“Art museums, including the ones that operate in the United States, the UK, Germany, and Australia, have not done enough to develop the art market in Japan,” the council said in a statement.
“While Japan has a long tradition of producing artists from abroad, many art museums in Japan do not provide a welcoming environment to artists and do not support artists who want to create their own works.”