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Encyclopedia > National Diet Library

Established in 1948 for the purpose of assisting members of the Diet of Japan/National Diet of Japan (国会: Kokkai) in researching matters of public policy, the National Diet Library (国立国会図書館; Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan) is the only national library in Japan. The library is similar in purpose and scope to the U.S. Library of Congress. The National Diet of Japan (国会 kokkai) is Japans legislature. ... The National Diet of Japan (国会 kokkai) is Japans legislature. ... United States Library of Congress, Jefferson building A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a nation to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. ... Library of Congress, Jefferson building The Library of Congress is the unofficial national library of the United States. ...

The National Diet Library consists of two main facilities in Tokyo and Kyoto, and other branch libraries. Long a symbol of Tokyo, the Nijubashi Bridge at the Kokyo Imperial Palace. ... Kyōto Prefecture (京都府; Kyōto-fu) is part of the Kinki region on Honshu island, Japan. ...



The National Diet Library (NDL) is the successor of three separate libraries: the library of the House of Peers, the library of the House of Representatives, both of which were established at the creation of Japan's Imperial Diet in 1890; and the Imperial Library, which had been established in 1872 under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. The House of Peers (貴族院 Kizokuin) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947). ... The House of Representatives (衆議院; Shugi-in) is the lower house of the Diet of Japan. ... refers to either the historic institution of the Reichstag in Germany, or Diet of Japan. ... Several countries have government departments named the Ministry of Education Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan) Ministry of Education (India) Ministry of Education (New Zealand) Ministry of Education (Israel) Ministry of Education (Malaysia) Ministry of Education (Singapore) See also: Minister of Education, Department of Education This is...

In 1946, after Japan's defeat in World War Two, reform of the Diet library system became an official part of the American vision for democratizing Japan. According to an official report by the U.S. Occupation, the previous Diet library system had been inadequate: "Both Houses of the National Diet of Japan have had their separate libraries since 1890. But because the Diet, prior to 1946, had no final responsibilities, its requirements for exact and extensive information were correspondingly small. . . . The Diet libraries never developed either the collections or the services which might have made them vital adjuncts of genuinely responsible legislative activity." One American scholar argues, however, that Japanese progressives found precisely the opposite causal relationship: "It was precisely because the executive branch controlled access to crucial documentary information that the legislature was rendered powerless. With this assessment, progressives on the Japanese side underscored the conflict and contention that marked the prewar political process as well as the mechanisms by which informed deliberation and dissent had been purposefully restricted and ultimately suppressed." Until Japan’s defeat, the government had assumed exclusive control of all political documents, depriving the people and the Diet itself of access to vital information. "'The true revolutionary significance of the NDL,'" therefore, was "that the Diet 'as the legislative organ of popular sovereignty would now exert control over any and all political documents relevant to the legislative function.'" German soldiers at the Battle of Stalingrad World War II was the most extensive and costly armed conflict in the history of the world, involving the great majority of the worlds nations, being fought simultaneously in several major theatres, and costing tens of millions of lives. ...

In 1946, National Diet Library Standing Committees were newly formed in each house of the Diet. Hani Gorô, a Marxist historian who had been imprisoned during the war for thought crimes and had been elected to the House of Councillors (the successor to the abolished House of Peers) after the war, spearheaded the reform effort. "For Hani, the National Diet Library would serve as the instrument by which 'the tyranny over knowledge, on which all tyranny is based' is wrested from the hands of the bureaucracy and monopoly capital. It was to be both a 'citadel of popular sovereignty,” and the means of realizing a “peaceful revolution.'" The Occupation officers responsible for overseeing the reform of the Diet library system would report to General Douglas MacArthur that, although the Occupation served as a catalyst for reform, the initiative existed in Japan before the Occupation began, and the success of the reform was due entirely to the efforts of the Japanese politicians and bureaucrats like Hani. The House of Councillors (参議院; Sangi-in) is the upper house of the Diet of Japan. ... General Douglas MacArthur aboard a battleship toward the end of World War II, 1945 Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 — 5 April 1964) was an American military leader credited with defeating the Japanese in World War II. He helped rebuild Japan after the war and played a key role in stopping...

In 1947, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the House of Councillors, invited a commission of librarians from the United States to assist in establishing a new library of the Diet. In 1948, Occupation officials and American librarians drafted the National Diet Library Law, establishing the NDL, which was translated into Japanese and enacted by the Diet, though not without conflict and negotiation between Americans and Japanese reformers on the one hand and conservative politicians in control of the Diet on the other. The new National Diet Library opened in June 1948 in the present-day State Guest-House (former Akasaka Detached Palace) with an initial collection of 100,000 volumes. In 1949, the NDL merged with the National Library (renamed from the Imperial Library in 1947) and became the only national library in Japan. At this time an additional one million volumes housed in the former National Library in Ueno was added to the collection. The State Guest-House (Geihinkan; 迎賓館) is a facility in which the government of Japan accommodates visiting state dignitaries. ... Ueno can mean: a city in Mie prefecture: Ueno, Mie an historical village in Kumamoto prefecture: Ueno, Kumamoto a village in Okinawa: Ueno, Okinawa a district of Taito, Tokyo: Ueno, Tokyo Ueno city in Kumamoto prefecture was the site of the last major battle of the Japanese Civil War. ...

In 1961, the NDL opened at its present present location in Nagatacho, adjacent to the National Diet. The current building was completed in 1968. In 1986, the NDL's Annex was completed to accommodate a combined total of 12 million books and periodicals. In October 2002, a second NDL facility, the Kansai-kan (the Kansai Library), was opened in October 2002 in the Kansai Science City (Seika Town, Soraku County, Kyoto Prefecture), and has a collection of 6 million items. In May 2002, the NDL opened 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. Nagatacho (永田町 Nagata-chō) is a district of Tokyo, Japan, located in Chiyoda Ward. ... The Kansai (Japanese: 関西) region of Japan, also known as the Kinki region (近畿地方, Kinki-chihō), lies in the middle of Japans main island, Honshu. ... Seika (精華町; -cho) is a town located in Soraku District, Kyoto, Japan. ... Soraku (相楽郡; Sōraku-gun) is a district located in Kyoto, Japan. ... Kyōto Prefecture (京都府; Kyōto-fu) is part of the Kinki region on Honshu island, Japan. ...

Though the NDL's original mandate was to serve as a research library for the National Diet, the public at large is by far the largest consumer of the library's services. In the fiscal year ended 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.

Major Collections

As Japan's national library, the NDL collects copies of all publications published in Japan. Moreover, because the NDL serves as a research library 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. The NDL organizes its collection in eight major categories, as follows: A research library is a library which contains an in-depth collection of material on one or several subjects. ...

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 Ito Hirobumi, Iwakura Tomomi, Sanjo Sanetomi, Mutsu Munemitsu, Terauchi Masatake, and other influential figures from the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) Periods. Born in Hagi, Yamaguchi, Prince Itō Hirobumi (伊藤 博文 Itō Hirobumi 16 October 1841–26 October 1909, also called Hirofumi/Hakubun and Shunsuke in his youth) was a Japanese politician and the countrys first Prime Minister (and the 5th, 7th and 10th). ... Iwakura Tomomi (岩倉 具視 October 26, 1825-July 20, 1883) was a statesman who played an important role in the Meiji restoration, influencing opinions of the Imperial Court. ... Prince Sanjo Sanetomi (1837-1891), Imperial court noble, Japanese statesman, was one of the old court nobles of Japan, and figured prominently among the little band of reformers who accomplished the overthrow of feudalism and the restoration of the administration to the Mikado. ... Categories: Stub | 1844 births | 1897 deaths | Japanese politicians ... Terauchi Masatake Terauchi Masatake (寺内 正毅 February 5, 1852–November 3, 1919) was a Japanese soldier and politician and the 18th Prime Minister of Japan from October 9, 1916 to September 29, 1918. ... See: Meiji Restoration, the revolution that ushered in the Meiji Era Meiji Era - the period in Japanese history when the Meiji Emperor reigned Emperor Meiji of Japan - Mutsuhito, the Meiji Emperor, who reigned during Meiji Era Meiji University - University in Tokyo. ... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Taisho period (大正 Taishō, lit. ...

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 for Allied Powers (SCAP), the Far Eastern Commission (FEC), and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey Team. (The originals of these documents are in the possession of the United States National Archives.) History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Surrender of Japan Japan surrendered to the Allies... The abbreviation GHQ may refer to the following things: General headquarters, a generic term for a military command center. ... Fec is a word introduced into the English language by the comedy Father Ted, the word is most often used as a replacement for fuck to avoid swearing in terms such as fec off. FEC is an acronym which can have the following meanings: Farnell Electronic Components (a distributor in... More than one country maintains a national archive: The Canadian Library and Archives Canada The New Zealand Archives New Zealand (formerly National Archives) The United States National Archives and Records Administration The United Kingdom National Archives This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might...

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 (1868-1912) and topographical maps of foreign countries. The Meiji period (Japanese: 明治時代, Meiji-jidai) denotes the 45-year reign of the Meiji Emperor, running from 8 September 1868 (in the Gregorian calendar, 23 October 1868) to 30 July 1912. ...


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 on 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 (1603-1867) and earlier periods. The major catalogues in this collection include: The Edo period (江戸時代, Edo-jidai) is a division of Japanese history running from 1600 to 1867. ...

Documents of the Tokugawa Shogunate

This catalogue consists of some 6,000 documents relating to the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867), such as records of town magistrates, records of the shogunal Supreme Court, records of the Commissioners of Shrines and Temples, and documents concerning the succession of shoguns. The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family until 1868. ... This page is about the Japanese ruler and military rank. ...

The Ito Bunko and Shirai Bunko

The 8,000 items in these two collections consist of handwritten and woodblock printed books dating from the Edo and Meiji Periods and concerning Japanese medicine.

The Shinjo Bunko

The 11,000 items in this catalogue concern pre-modern writings on astronomy and calendars, in addition to ancient Chinese works relating to the Qing Dynasty, genealogy, and local history. The Qing Dynasty (Manchu: daicing gurun; Chinese: 清朝; pinyin: qīng cháo; Wade-Giles: ching chao), sometimes known as the Manchu Dynasty, was founded by the Many clan Aisin Gioro, in what is today northeast america receded into China proper and the surrounding territories of Inner canada, establishing...

The Kansai-Kan

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

The NDL has transferred the following collections to the Kansai-kan : most western perdiocals; 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.[1] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (文部科学省; monbukagakushō), also known as MEXT is one of ministries of the Japanese government. ...

National Diet Library Online Resources

The National Diet Library has in recent years compiled a detailed website in both Japanese [2] and English [3]. This database is an important resource for students of Japan residing in foreign countries.

Digital Library from the Meiji Era

One of the most important features of the NDL's website is the Digital Library of the Meiji Era (official English name, not a direct translation; Japanese name is 近代デジタルライブラリー (Kindai dejitaru raiburari))[4]. This online library contains digital images of approximately 60,000 items dating from the Meiji Period. The digital collection is divided into ten main categories based on Nippon Decimal Classification (NDC) : (0) general (総記: soki); (1) philosophy (哲学: tetsugaku); (2) history (歴史: rekishi); (3) social sciences (社会科学: shakai kagaku); (4) natural sciences (自然科学: shizen kagaku); (5) engineering and manufacturing (工学・工業 kogaku/kogyo); (6) industry (産業: sangyo); (7) arts and athletics (芸術・体育: geijutsu/tai-iku); (8) language (語学: gogaku); and (9) literature (文学: bungaku). The images are not coded, so text searches are not possible; however, Japanese-language searches in the title, author, publisher, subject, and table of contents of the works in the database are possible. The Nippon Decimal Classification (NDC, also called the Nippon Decimal System) is a system of library classification developed for mainly Chinese and Japanese language books maintained by the Japan Library Association since 1956. ...

In order to access the images in the NDL's digital libraries, the user must download the NDL's image viewer, available here [5]. Users can download and print images they view on the NDL's website from any computer.

Rare Books Image Database

The NDL's website also contains the Rare Books Image Database (貴重書画像データベース:kichosho gazo detabesu), 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. [6]

Minutes of the Imperial Diet and National Diet

The NDL provides a searchable database of the minutes of both the Imperial Diet and the National Diet. All minutes from the National Diet's inception in May 1947 through the present are searchable online [7]. At present, only minutes from the last two (91st and 92nd) sessions of the Imperial Diet (November 1946 through May 1947) are available [8].

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 [9]or Japanese [10]. Using OPAC to identify sources and catalog numbers, overseas users may obtain certain materials from the NDL through interlibrary loan.[11] In addition, the NDL provides a fee-based reproduction service for scholars residing overseas. [12] Interlibrary loan is a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books, microfilms, recordings or photocopies of articles in magazines or videos and DVDs that are owned by another library. ...

Users should note that the OPAC is offline for regular maintenance between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. (Tokyo time) Tuesdays through Sundays, between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. (Tokyo time) on the first, second, and fourth Mondays of the month, and between 10:00 p.m. Sunday night through 7:00 a.m. Monday morning on the 3rd Monday of each month.


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' unpublished paper, "Revolution in the Archives of Memory: The Founding of the National Diet Library in Occupied Japan" (Department of History, University of Michigan).

External links

  • NDL Japanese website
  • NDL English website
  • Kansai-kan of the NDL (English)
  • Digital Library from the Meiji Era (English summary only)
  • Digital Library from the Meiji Era (Japanese)
  • Rare Books Image Database (Japanese)
  • NDL image viewer.
  • NDL-OPAC Japanese Index
  • NDL-OPAC English Index
  • Database of National Diet Minutes (Japanese)
  • Database of Imperial Diet Minutes (Japanese)
  • NDL Interlibrary Loan Application Procedures
  • NDL Photoreproduction Service



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