Outline of the National Archives

The National Archives of Japan

The National Archives of Japan

The Tsukuba Annex of the National Archives

The Tsukuba Annex of the National Archives

The Japan Center for Asian Historical Records

The Japan Center for Asian Historical Records

What is the National Archives?

The National Archives was established under the Prime Minister's Office on July 1, 1971. It was designated as an institution to be shifted to the status of an incorporated administrative agency, as a result of the guidelines for promoting central government reform (decided by the Headquarters for Promoting Central Government Reform in April 1999), and on April 1, 2001, when an act amending part of the National Archives Law came into effect, it formally became an incorporated administrative agency.

Establishment

  • 1) Name:  The National Archives of Japan, Incorporated Administrative Agency
  • 2) Main Office:  3-2 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0091
  • 3) Date of Establishment:  July 1, 1971
  • 4) Capital:  7,179,918,000 yen

Purpose

The National Archives is an organization for preserving, as historical materials, public records and archives of importance transferred from state organs, and providing them for public use, with the aim of achieving appropriate preservation and use of such public records and archives that are kept in the National Archives or state organs as historical materials.

Functions

Article 11 of the National Archives Law defines the scope of activities of the National Archives of Japan as follows:

  1. To preserve and make available for public use specified historical public records and archives;
  2. To preserve administrative documents (limited to those which are provided for as one which should be transferred to the National Archives under the provision of Article 5, paragraph 5 of the Public Records and Archives Management Act), on consignment from administrative organs (meaning administrative organs as provided for in Article 2, paragraph 1 of the said Act; the same shall apply hereinafter);
  3. To collect, classify and provide information pertaining to preservation and use of historical public records and archives;
  4. To provide professional and technical advice on preservation and use of historical public records and archives;
  5. To conduct research and studies on preservation and use of historical public records and archives;
  6. To provide training dealing with preservation and use of historical public records and archives;
  7. To undertake activities incidental to the ones set forth in the preceding items; and
  8. To make a report on, collect information on, and conduct inspection of, the management of administrative documents by administrative organs when the Prime Minister finds it necessary.

And besides, the National Archives of Japan may undertake following activities within a scope which does not affect its originally prescribed activities listed from 1. to 8.

  • To provide, on consignment from the Prime Minister, technical guidance or advice as provided for in Article 7 of the Public Archives Law; and
  • To preserve, on consignment from administrative organs, administrative documents (except those which are provided for as one which should be transferred to or disposed of under the provision of Article 5, paragraph 5 of the Public Records and Archives Management Act).

On April 1, 2011, the Public Records and Archives Management Act came into effect. It formulates and implements the uniformed management rule for administrative documents; introduces the records schedule; requires reports on management practices of the government ministries; newly establishes the system of inspection and recommendations by the Cabinet Office; and provides for utilization of the opinions of external professionals and promotion of use of historical public records and archives.

Officers

President Takeo Katoh (Former Chairman, Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.)
Senior Vice-President Atsushi Saito (Former Director-General, Secretariat, Science Council of Japan)
Auditor (part-time) Etsuko Tabei (Certified Public Accountant)
Auditor (part-time) Masanori Sato (Former Chairman, Jiji Gaho Sha, Inc.)
Director-General, Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (part-time) Sumio Hatano (Professor Emeritus, University of Tsukuba)

History of the National Archives

Official documents and records created by the Government ministries and agencies for administrative purposes are preserved as historical evidence and references for posterity. The archival system has a long history in many countries, especially in Europe where the modern archival system has developed since the 18th century. Today, such archives are one of the three key pillars of culture, together with libraries and museums.

In Japan, since the Meiji Period (1868-1912) administrative documents had been preserved respectively by each ministry. After the Second World War, however, there was increasingly urgent recognition of the need for facilities to prevent dispersal of, and to permit public access to, them. In November 1959 the President of the Science Council of Japan issued a recommendation to the Prime Minister requesting governmental action for establishing effective and appropriate measures to prevent scattering and loss of official documents and to facilitate public access by establishing a National Archives. The government also recognized this need, and called on the ministries and the agencies to prevent the scattering of administrative documents. It also conducted research on the situation regarding domestic government bodies, their preventive measures to avoid dispersal of documents, public access policy and systems and operations of archives of other countries. The research led to the establishment of the National Archives of Japan in July 1971 as an organization for receiving government documents and records of importance as historical materials, encouraging people's access to them, holding exhibitions, and conducting research on these historical materials.

In 1873 there was established a library for the cabinet of the early Meiji government, and in 1885, with the commencement of the modern cabinet system, this became the Cabinet Library (Naikaku Bunko), which later formed an important sector of the National Archives when it was established. Since then, as the country's leading specialized library of ancient Japanese and Chinese classical books and materials, it has been familiar to international and domestic scholars and researchers. The Cabinet Library's collection included voluminous material such as government records of the Edo Shogunate (1603-1867). These collections were transferred to the National Archives on the occasion of its becoming an incorporated administrative agency in 2001.

In July 1998, the Tsukuba Annex of the National Archives was established in the Tsukuba Science City in Ibaraki Prefecture in order to expand and improve the storage of archival materials. In accordance with the Public Archives Law (1987) and the National Archives Law (1999), the National Archives of Japan has been provided with a juridical basis for its establishment and responsibilities: it is recognized as a facility to carry out functions and duties relating to preservation and use of such state-owned historical materials. It also assumes the significant role of handing down this publicly-shared collection for posterity.

Moreover, as a result of a Cabinet Decision titled "On Promoting the Project for Maintenance of Asian Historical Records" (Cabinet Decision of November 30, 1999), the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records was opened in November 2001. As one of the institutional organizations operating under the National Archives of Japan, the center digitalizes data from various national institutions, such as the National Archives, the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Library of the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense, and provides the digital data through the Internet.

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3-2 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0091
TEL:+81-3-3214-0641

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