WHAT'S JACAR?

Greetings of Director-General of JACAR

The number of Japanese people interested in history has been increasing in recent years. At the same time, there has been a perennial debate over the "historical perceptions" of Japan vis-a-vis neighboring countries. It is our belief that work to establish historical facts is needed, before a meaningful dialogue for a common understanding of history will be pursued. This entails ascertaining what materials exist and sharing them. It is only on such a premise that a discussion on the interpretation of historical evidence can be effectively advanced.

From this point of view, in August 1994, the then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama published the statement on the "Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative" as a project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War Two. In the statement, Murayama instructed for the examination of establishing a “Japan Center for Asian Historical Records”. Since 1995, broad and in-depth discussions were held on how to form the center. A Japanese Cabinet Decision on November 30, 1999, entitled "On promoting the project for maintenance of Asian historical records," set the course for JACAR's eventual establishment. The institution would have the mission of “making materials, kept by the Government on the history of relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries and other countries, more accessible both to the Japanese public and to the people of the countries concerned, as well as of promoting mutual understanding between those countries and Japan”. To achieve such a mission, JACAR was founded as an organization of the National Archives of Japan.

The Asian historical records that JACAR provides include Japanese government official documents, which are important historical materials pertaining to relations between Japan and neighboring countries during the modern era. At present, these JACAR released Asian historical records come from holdings of the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the National Institute for Defense Studies of Japan, and the National Archives of Japan. These documents are made public in their original form with absolutely no content editing. Moreover, documents from the holdings of JACAR’s three collaborating governmental agencies can be searched in our center’s integrated database, which is convenient for users.

JACAR’s digital archives allow not only for the integrated release of Asian historical records, but also for their easy and convenient browsing at no cost online. Thus access to JACAR’s homepage has been steadily increasing among individuals interested in history and among those engaged in historical research and education. Moreover, JACAR has come to be seen as an internationally leading digital archive.

JACAR aims to become a hub for Asian historical records. JACAR has, for example, began a collaboration with the Ryukyu University Library and JACAR will continue to seek new partners for collaborations. JACAR hopes that users get a lot out of its resources and find them to be beneficial for their purposes.

Sumio Hatano
Director-General of Japan Center for Asian Historical Records