Nominations were due today, May 25th, for the International Manga Award, a new award organized by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso.  Aso, quoted by Mainichi Newspapers as saying the purpose of the award is 'to enhance the voice of Japanese pop culture and subculture,' has said he wants to make the award 'like the Nobel prize of manga.'


The submissions/nominations will be reviewed by an evaluation committee 'with the support of the Japan Cartoonists Association,' according to a Japanese government site.  It will include manga creators Machiko Satonaka, Takashi Yanase, and Tetsuya Chiba; and former editors of well-known Japanese comic magazines, according to Mainichi.       


Elegibility is limited to 'up and coming foreign manga artists whose base is overseas.'  Work must have been published prior to the end of 2006.  And the creator must have less than 10 years experience since the date of first publication. 


The International Manga Award (Foreign Minister's Award) and Encouragement Awards to be presented 'to a few excellent works' will be announced in early July.  Winners will be brought to Japan to receive the award, have a meeting with Japanese cartoonists, and visit a Japanese publisher.