In August 1994, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama promised at home and abroad to establish a "Center for Asian Historical Records" that would "collect historical documents and materials, as the centerpiece of the "Plan for peace and friendship exchanges". 1994 was one year prior to the commemoration of fifty years from the end of World War II.
A committee of 15 experts and intellectuals was established in charge of drafting concrete plans for the Center. This committee took into consideration the fact-finding studies both in and out of Japan, the opinions of other intellectuals, and more broadly the requests from the general public. In June 1995, the committee recommended that the Center be established "for impartially collecting a wide variety of materials and information on modern history of Japan and neighboring Asian countries and other countries, and helping researchers as well as the general public at home and abroad to have easy access to them."
Based on this thoroughly considered recommendation, the Government entered into concrete study for establishing the Center. On November 30, 1999, as part of the "Project for comprehensive collecting of Asian historical records", the Cabinet decided upon the establishment of the center which provides access through the Internet to "Asian historical records", which various ministries and agencies of Japan have been preserving. After 2 years of preparation, JACAR was opened on November 30, 2001, as a subsidiary institution of the National Archives of Japan.
In accordance with the decision by the Japanese Cabinet, the Center receives Asia-related historical digital records dating from the early Meiji era to the end of the World War II digitized by their holding institutions: the National Archives of Japan, Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense which possess the originals of these records. The Center has been constructing a database with these digitized records offered by these three institutions in order to provide online access to these records. The number of image data released from the center are almost 30,000,000 in April 2016.
Method of use
Users can access to our database using browsers running on either Japanese or English operating systems. To know the searching systems in each language, refer to their respective pages.
Merits of the Japanese-language search system
This system furnishes such functions as "Search by Keyword", that searches the needed documents with a keyword across all materials. "Advanced Search" is for flexible searching with synonyms and related words, that can be multiply selected and applied with "and" and "or" conditions. "Search by Reference Code" is a way of search directly with the individual code number assigned to each material. The functions of synonyms and related words serve for comprehensive search of a historical event or person which has several names such as "Pacific War", "Sino-Japanese War", "Greater East Asia War" and "China Incident," and such terms actually appearing in the documents that were in use at that time.
Merits of the English-language search system
As the titles of the documents are translated into English, English keywords can be used for searching through the titles in English. English translations of basic historical terms such as "Pacific War" and "Sino-Japanese War" have also been registered as synonyms and related words to their counterpart terms in Japanese, and thus needed metadata and documents in Japanese can be found through search by English words as well by activating the synonym and related-word functions. English translations of historical terms were determined after examination of terms appearing in the authorized English-language books concerning modern Japanese history, such as the Cambridge Modern History, Japan and China. In cases of terms that have no common English translation, we have romanized the Japanese term. Foreign-language names are spelled with the confirmed spelling in the original language as much as possible, but in cases that confirmation was not possible, we applied romanized notation or common English spelling for the term. For names of persons, places, institutions, and other matters relating to China, we apply the Pinyin system as a general rule, and provide the Wade-Giles system of spelling alongside in case the latter system is used commonly for the particular term. In cases of Japanese katakana syllabic notation, we apply romanized notation. Romanized notation, however, have been applied as an expedient measure and not comprehensively utilized for all terms. Therefore, it is desirable that the user conducts searches with a combination of Pinyin, Wade-Giles systems, and romanized notation when needed.