Photo/Illutration From left, film directors Takuya Uchiyama, Yukiko Sode, Nobuhiro Suwa, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Atsushi Funahashi, Miwa Nishikawa and Koji Fukada attend a news conference in Tokyo on June 14 as members of action4cinema to seek the establishment of a Japanese version of France's film support organization. (Misuzu Sato)

Famed film director Hirokazu Kore-eda is among a group of industry heavyweights working to improve working conditions in the aftermath of allegations of harassment and gripes about long hours for low wages.

They set up a group called action4cinema, aiming to establish a Japanese version of France’s Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animee (CNC), to tackle the problems now plaguing the domestic film industry.

“We are seeking to set up a new organization to provide a mutual assistance system that will allow the Japanese film industry to remain sustainable and viable in the future,” Kore-eda said during a news conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on June 14.

He was joined by six other filmmakers: Nobuhiro Suwa, Takuya Uchiyama, Yukiko Sode, Miwa Nishikawa, Koji Fukada and Atsushi Funahashi.

Founded in 1946, the CNC is a film support organization that set up a system to collect a portion of box office revenues, broadcasting fees, home video sales and other profits. It channels the funds to the entire industry to support filmmakers, distributors and other industry players.

South Korea's Korean Film Council (KOFIC), a public-private body, is modeled after the CNC.

The group members said they decided to push for a Japanese version of the CNC because they felt a growing sense of crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic flared. They said the domestic film industry needs to undergo radical reform to ensure diversity and create a worker-friendly environment.

Its purposes include: nurturing young talent, providing overseas training opportunities and offering other education support; providing working environments free of harassment and gender disparity; helping filmmakers as well as young cineasts to develop projects; and assisting theaters and distributors.

Actors Koji Yakusho and Sayuri Yoshinaga, as well as directors Yoji Yamada and Ryusuke Hamaguchi, also joined the cause.

As action4cinema intends to use box-office revenues and other proceeds for its efforts, it needs to gain the cooperation of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan Inc. (MPPAJ), which comprises Toho Co. and three other major film companies, along with other industry groups.

The members said discussions got going last year.

“We agree on the whole,” an MPPAJ representative told The Asahi Shimbun. “But we can't decide anything because there are so many stakeholders (such as theaters and distributors) involved,” the official said in reference to the issue of collecting a portion of box office revenues.

(This article was written by Misuzu Sato and Takuji Hosomi.)