National Diet Library
The is the only national library
National library
A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a country to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books...

 in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. It was established in 1948 for the purpose of assisting members of the in researching matters of public policy. The library is similar in purpose and scope to the U.S. Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...


The National Diet Library (NDL) consists of two main facilities in Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 and Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region of the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Kyoto.- History :Until the Meiji Restoration, the area of Kyoto prefecture was known as Yamashiro....

, and several other branch libraries throughout Japan.


The National Diet Library is the successor of three separate libraries: the library of the House of Peers
House of Peers (Japan)
The ' was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan ....

, the library of the House of Representatives
House of Representatives of Japan
The is the lower house of the Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors of Japan is the upper house.The House of Representatives has 480 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 180 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation,...

, both of which were established at the creation of Japan's Imperial Diet
Imperial Diet
Imperial Diet means the highest representative assembly in an empire, notably:* the historic institution of the Imperial Diet , either the estates in the Holy Roman Empire...

 in 1890; and the Imperial Library
Imperial Library (Japan)
The Imperial Library of the Empire of Japan was established in 1872 under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. Tōkyō Toshokan; became Teikoku Toshokan in 1897; popular name: Ueno Toshokan....

, which had been established in 1872 under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan)
The , also known as MEXT or Monkashō, is one of the ministries of the Japanese government.The Meiji government created the first Ministry of Education in 1871....


The Diet's power in prewar Japan was limited, and its need for information was "correspondingly small." The original Diet libraries "never developed either the collections or the services which might have made them vital adjuncts of genuinely responsible legislative activity." Until Japan’s defeat, moreover, the executive had controlled all political documents, depriving the people and the Diet of access to vital information. The U.S. occupation
Occupied Japan
At the end of World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers, led by the United States with contributions also from Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This foreign presence marked the first time in its history that the island nation had been occupied by a foreign power...

 forces under General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 deemed reform of the Diet library system to be an important part of the democratization of Japan after its defeat in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


In 1946, each house of the Diet formed its own National Diet Library Standing Committee. Hani Gorō, a Marxist historian who had been imprisoned during the war for thought crimes and had been elected to the House of Councillors
House of Councillors
The is the upper house of the Diet of Japan. The House of Representatives is the lower house. The House of Councillors is the successor to the pre-war House of Peers. If the two houses disagree on matters of the budget, treaties, or designation of the prime minister, the House of Representatives...

 (the successor to the abolished House of Peers) after the war, spearheaded the reform efforts. Hani envisioned the new body as "both a 'citadel of popular sovereignty,” and the means of realizing a “peaceful revolution.'" The Occupation officers responsible for overseeing library reforms reported that, although the Occupation was a catalyst for change, local initiative pre-existed the Occupation, and the successful reforms were due to dedicated Japanese like Hani.

The National Diet Library opened in June 1948 in the present-day State Guest-House
State Guest-House
Akasaka Palace is a former imperial residence that functions today as the . The palace is designated by the government of Japan as official accommodation for visiting state dignitaries. Located in the Moto, Akasaka area of Tokyo, the building took on its present function in 1974, having previously...

 (former Akasaka Detached Palace) with an initial collection of 100,000 volumes. The first Librarian of the Diet Library was the politician Tokujirō Kanamori. The philosopher Masakazu Nakai
Masakazu Nakai
was a Japanese aesthetician, film theorist, librarian, and social activist.-Career:Born in Hiroshima Prefecture, Nakai studied philosophy at Kyoto University, particularly aesthetics under Yasukazu Fukuda. He started the dōjinshi Bi hihyō in 1930, which changed its name to Sekai bunka in 1935...

 served as the first Vice Librarian. In 1949, the NDL merged with the National Library (previously called the Imperial Library) and became the only national library in Japan. At this time the collection gained an additional million volumes previously housed in the former National Library in Ueno
Ueno, Tokyo
is a district in Tokyo's Taitō Ward, best known as the home of Ueno Station and Ueno Park. Ueno is also home to some of Tokyo's finest cultural sites, including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the National Science Museum, as well as a major public concert hall...


In 1961, the NDL opened at its present location in Nagatachō, adjacent to the National Diet. In 1986, the NDL's Annex was completed to accommodate a combined total of 12 million books and periodicals. The Kansai-kan (the Kansai
The or the lies in the southern-central region of Japan's main island Honshū. The region includes the prefectures of Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, and Shiga. Depending on who makes the distinction, Fukui, Tokushima and even Tottori Prefecture are also included...

 Library), which opened in October 2002 in the Kansai Science City
Kansai Science City
is an unincorporated city located in the , a border region between Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara Prefectures of Japan. The name is commonly shortened to or...

Seika, Kyoto
is a town located in Sōraku District, Kyoto, Japan.As of 2008, the town has a population which exceeds 35,797. The total area is 25.66 km². Seika, although largely agriculturally based, has in recent years become the center of a national project of the Kansai Science City and has been referred to...

 Town, Soraku County
Soraku District, Kyoto
Soraku is a district in Kyoto, Japan.As of 2007, the district had an estimated population of 44,982 and a density of 252.27 persons per km². The total area is 178.31 km².-Towns and villages:*Kasagi*Minamiyamashiro*Seika*Wazuka...

, Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region of the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Kyoto.- History :Until the Meiji Restoration, the area of Kyoto prefecture was known as Yamashiro....

), has a collection of 6 million items. In May 2002, the NDL opened a new branch, the International Library of Children's Literature, in the former building of the Imperial Library in Ueno. This branch contains some 400,000 items of children's literature from around the world.

Though the NDL's original mandate was to be a research library for the National Diet, the general public is the largest consumer of the library's services. In the fiscal year ending March 2004, for example, the library reported more than 250,000 reference inquiries; in contrast, it recorded only 32,000 requests for research from the National Diet.

Main Collection

As Japan's national library, the NDL collects copies of all publications published in Japan. Moreover, because the NDL serves as a research library
Research library
A research library is a library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects . A research library will generally include primary sources as well as secondary sources...

 for Diet members, their staffs, and the general public, it maintains an extensive collection of materials published in foreign languages on a wide range of topics.

Important Special Collections

The NDL also has eight major specialized collections: Modern Political and Constitutional History; Materials Concerning the Postwar Occupation of Japan; Laws and Preliminary Records; Science and Technology; Maps; Music; Foreign Books About Japan; and Rare Books.

Modern Political and Constitutional History

The Modern Political and Constitutional History Collection comprises some 300,000 items related to Japan's political and legal modernization in the 19th century, including the original document archives of important Japanese statesmen from the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century like Itō Hirobumi
Ito Hirobumi
Prince was a samurai of Chōshū domain, Japanese statesman, four time Prime Minister of Japan , genrō and Resident-General of Korea. Itō was assassinated by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire...

, Iwakura Tomomi
Iwakura Tomomi
was a Japanese statesman in the Meiji period. The former 500 Yen banknote issued by the Bank of Japan carried his portrait.-Early life:Iwakura was born in Kyoto as the second son of a low-ranking courtier and nobleman . In 1836 he was adopted by another nobleman, , from whom he received his family...

, Sanjō Sanetomi
Sanjo Sanetomi
Prince was an Imperial court noble and statesman at the time of the Meiji Restoration. He held many high-ranking offices in the Meiji government.-Biography:Born in Kyoto, Sanjō was the son of Naidaijin Sanjō Sanetsumu...

, Mutsu Munemitsu
Mutsu Munemitsu
Count was a statesman and diplomat in Meiji period Japan.-Early life:Mutsu Munemitsu was born in Wakayama domain, Kii Province as the sixth son of Date Munehiro, a samurai retainer of the Kii Tokugawa clan...

, Terauchi Masatake
Terauchi Masatake
, GCB was a Japanese military officer and politician. He was a Field Marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army and the 18th Prime Minister of Japan from 9 October 1916 to 29 September 1918.-Early period:...

, and other influential figures from the Meiji
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 (1868–1912) and Taishō
Taisho period
The , or Taishō era, is a period in the history of Japan dating from July 30, 1912 to December 25, 1926, coinciding with the reign of the Taishō Emperor. The health of the new emperor was weak, which prompted the shift in political power from the old oligarchic group of elder statesmen to the Diet...

 (1912–1926) Periods.

Materials Concerning the Postwar Occupation of Japan

The NDL has an extensive microform collection of some 30 million pages of documents relating to the Occupation of Japan after World War II. This collection include the documents prepared by General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers
Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers
Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers was the title held by General Douglas MacArthur during the Occupation of Japan following World War II...

 (SCAP), the Far Eastern Commission
Far Eastern Commission
It was agreed at the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, and made public in communique issued at the end of the conference on December 27, 1945 that the Far Eastern Advisory Commission would become the Far Eastern Commission , it would be based in Washington, and would oversee the Allied...

 (FEC), and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey Team. (The originals of these documents are in the possession of the United States National Archives.)

Laws and Preliminary Records

The Laws and Preliminary Records Collection consists of some 170,000 Japanese and 200,000 foreign-language documents concerning proceedings of the National Diet and the legislatures of some 70 foreign countries, and the official gazettes, statutes, judicial opinions, and international treaties pertaining to some 150 foreign countries.

Science and Technology

The NDL maintains a collection of some 530,000 books and booklets and 2 million microform titles relating to the sciences. These materials include, among other things, foreign doctoral dissertations in the sciences, the proceedings and reports of academic societies, catalogues of technical standards, etc.


The NDL has a collection of approximately 440,000 maps of Japan and other countries, including the topographical, geological, and hydrological maps and charts dating back to the early Meiji Period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 (1868–1912) and topographical maps of foreign countries.


The NDL collects all phonographic recordings made in Japan, and presently holds a collection comprising 300,000 vinyl records and 200,000 compact disks.

Foreign Books About Japan

Following the tradition established by the Imperial Library, the NDL collects foreign-language materials about Japan, including rare and ancient documents, such as reports of European missionaries visiting Japan in the 16th century.

Rare Books and Old Materials

The NDL houses the former Imperial Library's collection of Japanese language materials from the Edo Period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

 (1603–1867) and earlier periods. The major catalogues in this collection include: (1) some 6,000 documents relating to the Tokugawa Shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 (1603–1867), such as records of town magistrates, the shogunal Supreme Court, and the Commissioners of Shrines and Temples, as well as documents concerning the succession of shoguns; (2) the Ito Bunko and Shirai Bunko, consisting of 8,000 handwritten and woodblock printed books dating from the Edo and Meiji Periods and concerning Japanese medicine; and (3) the Shinjo Bunko, consisting of 11,000 examples of pre-modern writings on astronomy and calendars, in addition to ancient Chinese works on the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, genealogy, and local history.

The Kansai-Kan

Kansai-kan (Kansai Library), which opened in Kyoto Prefecture in 2002, is the second facility of the NDL.

The NDL has transferred the following collections to the Kansai-kan : most western peridocals; books and other materials in non-Japanese Asian languages; certain scientific and technological materials (technical reports, papers of foreign academic societies, catalogs of Japanese and foreign technical standards, foreign doctoral dissertations, and conference proceedings in Western languages); scientific research reports compiled under grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Japanese doctoral dissertations; and books on tape.

National Diet Library Online Resources

The National Diet Library has in recent years compiled a detailed website in both Japanese and English Its online databases consist of the National Diet Library Online Public Access Catalog (NDL-OPAC), the Digital Library of the Meiji Era, the Rare Books Image Database, and the Minutes of the Imperial Diet and National Diet.

National Diet Library Online Public Access Catalog (NDL-OPAC)

The NDL provides an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), by which users can search the NDL's entire collection from anywhere in the world in either English or Japanese Using OPAC to identify sources and catalog numbers, overseas users may obtain certain materials from the NDL through interlibrary loan
Interlibrary loan
Interlibrary loan is a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library...

. In addition, the NDL provides a fee-based reproduction service for scholars residing overseas.

Digital Library from the Meiji Era

One of the most important features of the NDL's website is the The Digital Library is the digital descendant of the Maruzen Meiji Microfilm, the product of an ambitious project to microfilm the NDL's entire collection of Meiji era books, a collection of some 60,000 volumes. The digital library contains actual images of these works, which are divided into ten main categories based on Nippon Decimal Classification
Nippon Decimal Classification
The Nippon Decimal Classification is a system of library classification developed for mainly Chinese and Japanese language books maintained by the Japan Library Association since 1956. It is based on the Dewey Decimal System...

(NDC) : ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and . The images are not coded, so text searches are not possible; however, Japanese-language searches for the title, author, publisher, subject, and table of contents of the works in the database are possible. Meiji period periodicals are not included in this collection.

Rare Books Image Database

The NDL's website also contains the a collection of digital images from 37,000 illustrated books published before the Edo Period. Japanese-language searches by title, author, and call-number are possible in this database.

Minutes of the Imperial Diet and National Diet

The NDL provides a database of the minutes of both the Imperial Diet and the National Diet, the only one of the NDL's online database that is full-text searchable. All minutes from the National Diet's inception in May 1947 through the present are searchable online At present, only minutes from the last two (91st and 92nd) sessions of the Imperial Diet (November 1946 through May 1947) are available.


This article is based on information obtained from the National Diet Library website. The section on the formation of the NDL under the U.S. Occupation forces relies heavily on Leslie Pincus, "Revolution in the Archives of Memory: The Founding of the National Diet Library in Occupied Japan" in Francis X. Blouin and William G. Rosenberg, eds., Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory: Essays from the Sawyer Seminar (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.