Tokyo is set to host an esports event spanning two days to promote the capital’s video game and anime industries. Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, stated that plans have been made to set aside 50m yen (£361,000) in the budget for fiscal 2019, which begins April 1st, to hold the event.
Japan has long been the hotbed of activity for esports players primarily specialising in the fighting game scene, thanks in part to the popularity and cultural cachet of the arcade market, but has struggled to find a structural foothold. The Japan Esports Union (JeSU) was formed last year in an effort to build some infrastructure to support these players.
With this, esports fans and players in Japan can seemingly look forward to continued support from both the JeSU and the government. While no date or venue has been set, we can expect it to take place sometime after March, as Japan’s fiscal year begins on April 1st. Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Japan’s premier video game convention is being held in September this year, so they may also choose to skirt around that date in order to give both events some space.
JeSU has also made moves recently, announcing 11 branches of the organisation to be operated locally in various prefectures. They will help to organise and instruct players and tournament organisers, aiming to create a deep infrastructure that can be expanded upon. They will all aim to be open and operational by the end of January.
JeSU Chairman Hideki Okamura said in December: “The popularity of esports has grown from last year to this year and we will push it to a new stage next year. We think elevating the recognition of esports is one solution in making an approach to the International Olympic Committee or the Japanese Olympic Committee”
Esports Insider says: Japan continues to make strides in helping their players foster a sustainable ecosystem. While it has taken them some time, both their video game companies and players have remained steadfast. With the support of the government and a sanctioning body, Japan could rise to new heights in the coming year.