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Chinese actors attend a press conference for movie "Namiya" adapted from Japanese writer Keigo Higashino's novel "Miracles of the Namiya General Store" in Beijing in October 2017 (Imaginechina/AP Images)

Bull market in bungaku highlights Japanese literary revival

China leads international boom in demand for new and old authors

PETER TASKER, Contributing writer | Japan

TOKYO -- Is there a relationship between the popularity of Japanese authors overseas and the Nikkei 225 Index? At first sight it seems unlikely, but Japan's cultural footprint has expanded greatly since the "two lost decades," as the economic malaise that followed the bursting of the 1980s bubble economy came to be known.

In that dismal period, Japanese publishers and media companies were in defensive mode -- indeed, Kodansha International, a high profile publisher of Japanese books in English, went out of business in 2011, when the Nikkei index was languishing at 8,000 from an all-time high of nearly 39,000 in late December 1989. Likewise foreign interest in Japan dwindled, as the then-current term "Japan passing" suggests.

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