FAQ

  1. What does the National Archives of Japan preserve in its custody?
  2. Does the National Archives hold all government documents and records?
  3. Are all the government documents and records in the National Archives open to the public?
  4. How do I look up documents of the collection?
  5. What does "must screen" mean? Am I allowed to browse "must screen" ledgers?
  6. Do you have any documents about Cabinet decisions?
  7. If I want to look up the career of a famous person, what sort of documents does National Archives have?

1.

Q:

What does the National Archives of Japan preserve in its custody?

A:

The National Archives preserves the holdings of Government Documents and Records of importance as historical materials, referring to the Finding Aid and Naikaku Bunko (Cabinet Library) included voluminous materials which can be regarded as government documents of Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867) referring to the Precious Holdings in HP.

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2.

Q:

Does the National Archives hold all government documents and records?

A:

It holds all ministry and agency government documents and records since the Meiji era that were transferred from the ministries and agencies, with the exception of the Diet and the courts. Government documents and records concerning diplomacy, defense and the imperial family are principally in the possession of the following institutions. Please contact these organizations directly for the document that you are seeking:

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Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Holds diplomatic documents and records from the end of Tokugawa era to the postwar period. For details, go to Website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/hq/record/index.html (on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)

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National Institute for Defense Studies
Possesses government documents and records of the former Japanese Imperial Army and Navy, etc. from the Meiji era onwards. The battle records of each unit, etc. are found here. For further details, see the Military Archives from the NIDS Website: http://www.nids.go.jp/english/index.html

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Imperial Household Agency Archives and Mausolea Department
Holds the government documents and records of the Imperial Household Agency and the former Imperial Household Ministry. Appointments are required to use this service. Enquiries to: Tel: +81-3-3213-1111 Manager, Archives Division of the Archives and Mausolea Department

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3.

Q:

Are all the government documents and records in the National Archives open to the public?

A:

The statutes pertaining to the National Archives (go to pertinent statutes link) limits the use of documents affecting personal privacy, etc. Ledgers and notebooks containing such information is catalogued as either "nondisclosure" or "must screen."

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4.

Q:

How do I look up documents of the collection?

A:

If you press the Document Search button above, you will jump to the National Archives Catalogue Database. There are two kinds of document search: i) Government Documents and Records Search Subsystem and ii) Naikaku Bunko Search Subsystem for classics and manuscripts. See the Detailed User Guide for each subsystem for detailed search tips.

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5.

Q:

What does "must screen" mean? Am I allowed to browse "must screen" ledgers?

A:

Ledgers or notebooks that are "must screen" are documents that may contain material subject to limitations of use by the general public under the statutes pertaining to the National Archives. You will have to wait for some time after applying to see a ledger, as we will run a content check. Given that you may not be able to access the ledger on the same day, depending on its content, please ask the National Archives about the designation of the ledger.

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6.

Q:

Do you have any documents about Cabinet decisions?

A:

We hold documents dating from the establishment of the Cabinet system in 1885 to around 1970. Archives up to 1896 are stored in the Government documents and records Collection, while those archived since 1897 are stored under Cabinet Documents (transferred FY1999).

  Documents up to 1945 are entirely open. Documents from 1946 onwards are "must screen." Documents from 1955 onwards take a particularly long time to screen, so please make an enquiry prior to coming to the National Archives for these documents. We operate a queue process for screening, and we accept up to five requests per day per person for "must screen" documents. As soon as screening is complete, we will contact you (by fax or email, etc.) to tell you what day you may see the document(s).

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7.

Q:

If I want to look up the career of a famous person, what sort of documents does National Archives have?

A:

Since 1871, we have documents relating to the appointment and dismissal of people in positions above a certain level, as well as documents relating to the decorations and positions of ordinary citizens. These are listed below. However, all documents are catalogued in order of date, therefore searches must be made by date of appointment or decoration. There are some government documents and records with names on them, but in the case of regular personnel transfers or regular awards, only the name of one representative is recorded, not the name of every person concerned. They are not necessarily found on all resumes, etc. either. (Insert separately attached Excel table here)

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Records
series
Years
stored
Appointment/
Dismissal
Decoration Rank Content Access status
Shokan
Shintai
1871-1879 Officials above the rank
of Sonin
Open
Kobun Roku 1879-1885 Officials above the rank
of Sonin
Open
Kanri
Shintai
1886-1892 Officials above the rank
of Sonin
Access examination is required.
Ninmen
Saikasho
1893-1954     Officials above the rank
of Sonin
Access examination is required.
Kobun
Betsuroku
1889-1947     Shinnin officials (Prime Ministers, ministers, etc.) Open
Naikaku
Jinji Kobun
1955-1980     Cabinet-approved appointments Access examination is required.
Jokun
Saikasho
1893-1954     Including decorations for foreigners, etc.
Medals of honor given after 1946
Access examination is required.
Tokubetsu
Jokun Kunrei
1918-1946     Grand Cordon of the Order Paulownia Flowers, etc. Open
Kakushu
Saikasho
1895-1947     Decorations for wartime achievement,
Commemoration Medal, etc
Access examination is required.
Kobun
Zassan
1886-1945     Medals of Honor only Access examination is required.
Naikaku Jinji
Kobun
1955-1992     Including Medals of Honor Access examination is required.
Joi
Saikasho
1893-1954     Including posthumous ranks Access examination is required.
Naikaku Jinji
Kobun
1955-1988       Access examination is required.

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

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