The JLPP, under the Agency for Cultural Affairs, worked to promote Japanese literature abroad, selecting and funding translation projects to sell to foreign publishers in English, French, German, and other languages. They would even buy a number of copies from said publisher to donate to universities and libraries, essentially guaranteeing a certain number of sales to publishers who would otherwise be unlikely to take a risk on unknown contemporary Japanese writers.
The Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology, along with a selection of “experts,” did an inspection of the efficacy of certain government operations, and decided the JLPP and two other organizations were just not up to snuff. Said one expert: “It isn’t necessary for government money to be spent on the myriad translations of exemplary works of literature for private organizations.”
If only that were true. Without the support of the JLPP, we wouldn’t have seen the publications of works from authors such as Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Tsutsui Yasutaka, Miyazawa Kenji, Yasuoka Shotaro, Kawakami Hiromi, Hemmi Yo, Yamada Amy, Kitakata Kenzo, Ikezawa Natsuki, and many, many, many others.
I will admit that the selections made by the JLPP were sometimes puzzling, but the diversity of Japanese literature in translation will surely suffer because of this loss. A sad day, indeed.