Japan is trying to lure a world-class art fair to Tokyo with tax incentives and a large open art space. Will the bet pay off?

For at least a year, Japanese authorities have been vying for a bigger place in the booming international art market. They have already worked to make it easier for galleries to deal in art fairs and free zones by relaxing tax rules and import duties.

The country now appears to be making an even more concerted push, with from Japan The Agency for Cultural Affairs invites organizers of international art fairs to hold an event in Tokyo, possibly as early as 2025, according to Japanese media.

The agency sees the National Art Center Tokyo (NACT), one of Japan’s largest art institutions, as a potential fairground. NACT, which is in the Minato district of Tokyo, has no permanent collection, so its extensive 150,000 square feet of exhibit space is used to host temporary and traveling shows.

Neither NACT nor the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs were immediately available to respond to Artnet News’ request for comment.

Tokyo National Arts Center building. Photo by: Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

Last year, Pace Chairman and CEO Marc Glimcher predicted that easing tax laws could strengthen Japan’s position on the international arts scene, telling Nikkei Asia: “If Japan does reopen, it has the potential, once again, to become one of the centers of the art market in Asia. He added that Pace was “considering” opening a location in the country and was already at “some level of conversations”.

According to Nikkei, he welcomed the deregulation enacted last February that would allow art galleries, auctions and art fairs in customs areas without import procedures or payment of duties and taxes. But there have been no further developments on a Pace location in Japan, a gallery representative confirmed to Artnet News.

Some industry experts said that while they hadn’t directly heard of major trade show organizers making a play for the region, it wouldn’t be surprising, especially given all the uncertainty in Hong Kong. . The Chinese port city, a certified arts center, continues to face ever-tighter restrictions stemming from a national security law that hampers free speech there.

Another observer noted how hard Japan was hit in the 1980s, when an art-buying frenzy led to a speculative bubble that imploded. The country’s art market never reached its previous heights in the decades that followed.

The current flagship event for the Japanese market, Art Fair Tokyo, which has taken place annually since 2005, has a strong regional presence, with most of its exhibitors coming from within the country. Frieze, meanwhile, is moving forward with the first edition of an international fair in Seoul, South Korea, next September, and no doubt they have carefully researched potential locations in Asia.

On the other hand, given the beauty of the country and all it has to offer, especially with the burgeoning tax benefits, Japan could be a great alternative for another player, some observers said.

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