Home > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 204, February 2016

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 204, February 2016

Description of the acquisition activities of modern Japanese political history materials:
focusing on the late 1980s and 1990s

Hiroo Horiuchi
Library Counsellor
Reader Services and Collections Department

This is a translation of the article in Japanese of the same title
in NDL Monthly Bulletin No. 655 (November 2015).

The original article is revised by the author with the transcription interviewed in two separate times by the two reference librarians of the Modern Japanese Political Documents Division --- Mr. Hiromune Suzuki (Assistant Director of the division) and Ms. Fumi Ashina (Chief of the Modern Japanese Political Documents Section).


<<Photo 1: Taken in London, with researchers closely collaborating
to acquire modern Japanese political documents. (from left) Prof. Reiko
Oyama of Komazawa University (former assistant director of the Modern
Japanese Political Documents Division, NDL), Prof. Sochi Naraoka of
Kyoto University Law School, myself, Prof. Tomoki Takeda of Daito Bunka
University, Prof. Michihiko Kobayashi of University of Kitakyushu>>

1. Introduction

The Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room in the Tokyo Main Library of the National Diet Library (NDL) provides the collection of "kenseishiryo (modern Japanese political documents)." It includes "personal papers" held by persons highly concerned in the modern Japanese political history, in various styles ranging widely over letters, diaries, notes, official documents, and photographs. The NDL has targeted especially documents held by politicians, high officials, diplomats, military officers and other persons who exercised some influence on Japan's state-level parliamentary government, and has acquired them by ways of donation, deposit, purchase, and so on. Currently the collection includes about 500 titles of papers, and the total number of items is over 350,000.

In this article, first, I briefly touch on the NDL's acquisition activities for modern Japanese political documents since the opening of the Room, and then look back focusing on the activities during the late 1980s and the 1990s, when the primary target times had been changing to the Showa era (1926-1989).

<<Photo 2: Prof. Toshiaki Okubo (1900-1995). historian.
He joined the NDL as a part-time staff member for political history
compilation, later appointed as a part-time researcher and visiting
researcher until 1990.
Reference for this photo: Meiji ishin no seijikatei.
(Ookubo toshiaki rekishi chosakushu vol.1). 1986.
Yoshikawa Kobunkan: frontispiece [NDL call no.: GB415-87]>>

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2. Phase of infancy: To the early 1950s

In 1949, the Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room opened in the Detached Library of the NDL located in the Diet building, taking over the acquisition activities as a part of the Japan's political history compilation project, which was originally launched by the House of Peers and the House of Representatives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. Although post-war social disorders threatened to split the collected papers away from the NDL, many important documents that were formerly held by persons who had rendered distinguished service during the Meiji Restoration, senior statesmen, and politicians, came to be included to the NDL's collection, thanks to Prof. Toshiaki Okubo who had also contributed to the establishment of the Room.

The papers acquired in the first three years were formerly held by ITO Hirobumi, IWAKURA Tomomi, KATSU Kaishu, MAKINO Nobuaki, HIROSAWA Saneomi, the SANJOs, OKI Takato, KATSURA Taro, MUTSU Munemitsu, INOUE Kaoru, MISHIMA Michitsune, KABAYAMA Sukenori, and others. They have been making up the core part until today, with almost 50,000 items in total.

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3. Phase of expanding the target: Up to 1980

In 1961, the NDL played host to the "Exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Diet," and document research for the exhibition energized the NDL's acquisition activities. In the same year, the NDL established "Seijishiryo Chosa Jimukyoku (lit. Research Office of Modern Japanese Political Documents)" as the all-NDL collaborative organization for wider acquisition of political documents. After that, the target began to cover documents created not only during the Meiji era (1868-1912), but also during the Taisho (1912-1926) and the Showa (1926-1989) era.

From the 1960s to the 1970s, the Room acquired by deposit some personal papers held by senior politicians of the Meiji era like OYAMA Iwao, as well as other politicians like SHINAGAWA Yajiro, TSUZUKI Keiroku, HIRATA Tosuke, by purchase or donation. Additionally, papers held by the following persons were acquired in this phase: military officers like TERAUCHI Masatake, SAITO Makoto, UGAKI Kazushige, ISHIHARA Kanji; party politicians like KONO Hironaka, HOSHI Toru, OGAWA Heikichi, ANDO Masazumi, ASANUMA Inejiro; high-ranked officials like SAKATANI Yoshio, SEKIYA Teisaburo, MATSUMOTO Gaku; officials of the Cabinet Legislative Bureau like IRIE Toshio and SATO Tatsuo, who both worked for the establishment of the Constitution of Japan.

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4. Phase of increasing Showa-era documents: After 1980

From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, documents generated during the Showa era markedly increased. In the following sections, I will tell you some especially memorable anecdotes from my personal experience in acquisition and cataloging of documents, focusing on the days when I was working at the Room (April 1988 - June 1997).

4.1 Papers containing mainly pre-1945 documents

4.1.1 KASHIWABARA Hyotaro Papers (deposit)

(1896-1952 / high-ranking official of the Ministry of Railroads / 2,653 items / acquired in 1988)

KASHIWABARA was an official who started his career in the Ministry of Railroads, and later during WWII in the Planning Board, he proposed and exercised the mobilization plan for resources. Containing documents related to the plan as the main part, his papers were attached to an item list by Prof. Takahisa Furukawa (present-day Nihon University), and stored in a researcher's room on an upper floor in a high-rise apartment building. On the day when I visited the researcher to receive the papers, unfortunately, the elevator was under repair and there was no other way. I had to go up and down the whole way using the stairs.

4.1.2 SUGIYAMA Gen Papers

(1880-1945 / Minister of Army, Army Chief of Staff / 275 items / acquired in 1989)

His papers contain mainly materials from his early career (e.g. strategic notes, leader's manuals), and when we selectively received them, they were stored in his relative's Japanese traditional earthen-wall storehouse that was to be dismantled. The condition of the papers was very bad, since they were covered with soil from the wall, which I picked up and noticed worms inside -- they were apparently still alive. The NDL has never had a fumigation plant, so we outsourced the fumigation process for killing insects through our preservation and conservation office to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Ueno, Tokyo.

4.1.3 ADACHI Mineichiro Papers

(1869-1934 / diplomat, President of the Permanent Court of International Justice / 6,747 items / acquired in 1992)

His papers were originally boxed and stored in the inner part of the storage on the premises of the Adachi Mineichiro Kinenkan in Yotsuya, Tokyo. They were too large in quantity to move by staff of my division, so I asked support staff even other divisions. On the day of receiving, our team pulled tens of boxes one after another, opened them, put in materials selectively, and then transported them to the NDL by car. After that, we put the items left out-of-selection back in their original place, and even we cleaned up the storage. His papers contain many diplomatic documents written in French, so they took much longer to be cataloged and become available in the Room.

4.1.4 HAYASHIDE Kenjiro Papers

(1882-1970 / diplomat, secretary to the Emperor of "Manchukuo" / 682 items / acquired in 1993)

HAYASHIDE graduated from Toa Dobun Shoin in Shanghai, and became a China expert diplomat. He left his diaries and "Manchukuo" related documents at the Hayashide family's residence in Gobo, Wakayama Prefecture. The family allowed us to examine the materials and donated them to the NDL, except "Gempi kaikenroku (minutes of high-ranking official's meetings between "Manchukuo" and Japan)," which we decided to send, with the permission of the family, to the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan that had already stored another part of the minutes.

4.2 With Prof. Ito's cooperation

From 1990 to 1995, Prof. (later Prof. emer.) Takashi Ito of the University of Tokyo was appointed as a visiting researcher of the NDL. Before that, he had continuously made efforts to intermediate between donor families and the NDL, and it resulted in laying many materials open to researchers. Those form the major part of the pre-war Showa era materials, and I will introduce some of them below.

4.2.1 HIRANUMA Kiichiro Papers

A public foundation named Mukyukai transferred the papers. Prof. Michihiko Kobayashi of University of Kitakyushu was then an entrusted researcher of the NDL, and we commissioned him to catalog those materials, though I myself also worked with him.

4.2.2 MASAKI Jinzaburo Papers

Summed up over 5,000 items, the papers were transported in two batches in 1990. All the section staff members were committed to cataloging, and within a year from acquisition, they became available with a press release.

4.2.3 ARAKI Sadao Papers

Before the donation to the NDL, the papers were cataloged in a shorter term by a young researchers’ group in Prof. Ito's seminar at the University of Tokyo.

4.2.4 TSURUMI Yusuke Papers

The papers were donated by his eldest daughter, sociologist, then-Prof. emer. Kazuko Tsurumi of Sophia University. Prof. Ito, Ms. Miyoko Yamaguchi (then assistant director of the Modern Japanese Political Documents Division), and I visited her home in Nerima, Tokyo. In the second floor, we noticed that quite a large number of materials were stored in big boxes, but the stairs were too narrow and steep to carry them down by hand. So we had to glide them down over the steps, one box after another. Several additional batches were acquired later.

4.2.5 KATAKURA Tadashi Papers

His residence was to be dismantled soon after his death. Prof. Ito and I went there to receive the materials. The site was in a mess, because dismantling workers had already arrived there, and another group for packing his books was working simultaneously.

<<Photo 3: KATAKURA Tadashi Papers
(Kantogun shokuinhyo (lit. List of the Kwantung Army personnel),
March 1932 [NDL call no.: KATAKURA Tadashi Papers 725])>>

4.3 Re-cataloging of the SAITO Makoto Papers

Besides newly acquired materials, in 1991, we started re-cataloging the SAITO Makoto Papers (Part 1).

(1858-1936 / Minister of Navy, Prime Minister, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal / over 10,000 items / acquired in 1964)

Although the volume of the papers is so huge, for a long time, it had been inconvenient to use them because of the poor search tools; a mimeographed catalog "Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku (ko) in 1967" which only covers the document part incompletely; while other handwritten simple catalogs cover other parts including documents and letters. First, we decided to start re-cataloging of the document part. With the cooperation of Prof. Kazuyuki Kobayashi of Aoyama Gakuin University (then part-time researcher), we published the detailed catalog that mainly covers documents related to the Navy and the Government-General of Korea ("Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku Shorui no Bu 1" in 1993), followed by the one that covers the rest of the documents ("Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku Shorui no Bu 2" in 1995). After that, we proceeded to re-catalog the letter part and microfilm the whole SAITO Makoto Papers. The effort of then-Prof. Masaomi Yui of Waseda University led it to a joint project with the university. He was a former NDL staff member and had a relationship that he was the person who was in charge of acquiring the papers originally held in Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture, and then compiled the above-said "Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku (ko)" during his career in the Room. For the letter part re-cataloging that resulted in being published in two volumes ("Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku Shokan no Bu 1" in 1998 and "Saito Makoto Kankei Monjo Mokuroku Shokan no Bu 2" in 1999), we commissioned three entrusted researchers of the NDL; Mr. Koichi Okamoto, Mr. Masaru Tonomura, and Mr. Masaaki Miyamoto. This project ranged nine years. Four volumes of catalog and microfilmed whole papers were published. Thus it happened that many more researchers get to be using this papers.

4.4 Papers containing mainly post-1945 documents

4.4.1 ASHIDA Hitoshi Papers (deposit)1

(1887-1959 / diplomat, Prime Minister / 2,691 items / deposited in 1993)

ASHIDA's grandson (his daughter's son) Prof. Motoharu Shimokobe deposited to the NDL. The papers contain the original diaries that had already published before the deposit, as well as manuscripts and letters. Regarded as important as his experience of being Prime Minister under the Allied Occupation of Japan, these materials are often use in exhibitions featuring political history.

4.4.2 ISHIBASHI Tanzan Papers (Part 1) 2

(1884-1973 / President of the Toyo Keizai Inc., Prime Minister / 1,481 items / acquired in 1985 and 1993)

His eldest son Mr. Tan'ichi Ishibashi, then-President of the Ishibashi Tanzan Memorial Foundation, donated the papers. Within the collection of the Modern Japanese Political Documents, it was the third time to open a former post-war Prime Minister's papers, following SHIDEHARA Kijuro and ASHIDA Hitoshi, so we issued a press release. After the publication of "Ishibashi Tanzan Nikki (lit. Ishibasi Tanzan's Diaries)," Prof. Takashi Ito donated the set of the copies made from the original diaries to add to these papers.

<<Photo 4: ISHIBASHI Tanzan Papers (Part 1)
(Yuzei enzetsu genko (lit. a script for a campaign tour speech),
January 1957 [NDL call no.: ISHIBASHI Tanzan Papers (Part 1) 563])>>

4.4.3 ARIMITSU Jiro Papers

(1903-1995 / high-ranking official of the Ministry of Education, Director of the Japan Art Academy / 3,374 items / acquired in 1989)

He served as a high-ranking official up to Administrative Vice-Minister of Education, and after retirement, he was appointed members of some councils. He himself donated the papers to the NDL. In his home, quite a large quantity of materials was stored. Most of them were found to be handouts of councils related to education, and some were bound in files, while some were put into envelopes. First, we sorted along councils, and then chronologically within each council.

<<Photo 5: ARIMITSU Jiro Papers>>

4.4.4 Papers formerly held by the National Movement Bureau, Japan Socialist Party (JSP)

(1,818 items / acquired in 1993)

A JSP-related person proposed this donation through the Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, NDL. We moved this large number of materials from the penthouse storage in the headquarter building of the JSP to the NDL. The condition of the papers was not good, but in our storage, we started first to sort them roughly by subject. At last, we decided to store them in 198 archival boxes sorted by subject. It took a long time for them to be available to researchers, because of the quantity, change of our staff members, and reformation of the JSP to the Social Democratic Party. The main part is materials related to labor movements and citizen's movements from the 1950s to the 1980s. It looks outstanding against the tendency of other papers that had already acquired by then. As a unique materials relating to student movements around 1960 against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, "Hansen Gakusei Domei (lit. Anti-war Students League) related papers formerly held by Prof. Mitsuo Nakamura" is also available.

<<Photo 6: Papers formerly held by the National Movement Bureau, Japan Socialist Party (JSP)>>

4.5 "Exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Diet" and our acquisitions

In 1990, the NDL played host to the "Exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Diet," advocating publicly through the mass media and other ways to get the information on unknown papers. As the result of this effort, the TATSUNO Shuichiro Papers came to the NDL at first as deposit, and later turned to donation.

Mr. Yoshihiro Hirose, who was then assistant director of the Modern Japanese Political Documents Division (later he became Professor of Surugadai University), and I visited the Tatsuno family resident in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. We examined his papers stored in the detached house. Snow was falling outside, but, we lost track of time as we absorbed ourselves in "finding" many precious materials; e.g. diaries created in the 1891-1898 period, when Tatsuno made campaign trips throughout the country as a member of the Jiyuto (lit. Freedom Party).

Taking the opportunity of this exhibition, some papers including the SHIMOMURA Hiroshi Papers and AMAKASU Masahiko Papers were also acquired.

<<Photo 7: TATSUNO Shuichiro Papers
(Sandai jiken kempaku no sai Tokyo ni oite satsuei
(lit. Taken in Tokyo while requesting three major items),
November 1887 [NDL call no.: TATSUNO Shuichiro Papers 346])>>

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5. Current acquisitions after 2000

A large number of papers created in the pre-war and post-war Showa era, and collected mainly by Prof. Takashi Ito, then cataloged and stored at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, began to be donated to the NDL since 2005 and are now in active progress. The NDL made them available one by one in the Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room. For example, OUGI Kazuto Papers, HANYU Sanshichi Papers, and KIUCHI Nobutane Papers are already open to researchers, and so are even post-war materials held by high-ranking officials of the Defense Agency like the KAIHARA Osamu Papers3 and HOSHUYAMA Noboru Papers. Additionally, thanks to Prof. Ito's connection, the NDL newly acquired the following papers and made them available: YASUDA Tatsuma Papers,4 WADA Kosaku Papers,5 KASE Toshikazu Papers,6 ANAMI Korechika Papers.7 Let me just add more examples by the same method; NAGATA Hidejiro and Ryoichi Papers (through the connection of Prof. Yoshiya Suetake of Soka University), MITSUKAWA Kametaro Papers (through the connection of former Prof. Christopher W. A. Szpilman of Kyushu Sangyo University), Papers related to the Kabasan Incident (through the connection of former Prof. Kunio Anzai of Waseda University), TANI Tateki Papers (deposited through the connection of Prof. Kazuyuki Kobayashi of Aoyama Gakuin University), SHIGEMITSU Mamoru Papers (deposited through the connection of Prof. Tomoki Takeda of Daito Bunka University), SEKI Yoshihiko Papers (through the connection of Prof. Sochi Naraoka of Kyoto University Law School). By microfilming, UCHIDA Yasuya Papers8 (through the connection of Prof. Michihiko Kobayashi of University of Kitakyushu), Lists of the South Manchuria Railway Personnel, and others were also acquired.

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6. Conclusion

As to materials created from the Meiji era to the pre-war Showa era (1867-1945), it is quite common that the former holders tend to come from noble families of the pre-war times, therefore, we have been favored with kind cooperation by the active societies of such people including "Kasumi Kaikan" and "Shoyu Kurabu" to collect papers through the members. With the network within the society, we often received information on additional and unnoticed items of papers that had been already acquired and available in the NDL, and sometimes we also received proposals to donate papers just after the change of the family's head, even more, when a donor noble family introduced us to another noble family. As I illustrated above, researchers' connections are indispensable to our acquisition, and the network among them is fundamental to our activities. Moreover, in recent years, we have been developing relationships between younger researchers, and their activities in various research groups resulted in donations to the NDL more than before. My experience up to the present shows that acquisition activities often span many years. Toward the goals to acquire, needless to say, it is even more than ever important to maintain and expand networks between researchers and others.

<<Photo 8: [in the rear row, from left] myself, Prof. Fumitaka Kurosawa (Tokyo Women's Christian University, President of the Military History Society of Japan), Prof. Yoshiya Suetake (Soka University, visiting researcher of the NDL), Prof. Kazuyuki Kobayashi (Aoyama Gakuin University, former part-time researcher of the NDL), [in the front row, from left] Prof. emer. Yoshihiro Hirose (Surugadai University, former senior librarian of the NDL), Ms. Yoshii Naito (part-timer of Research Office of the Shoyu Kurabu), Prof. emer. George Akita (University of Hawaii), Ms. Yoriko Ueda (Research Office of the Shoyu Kurabu), Prof. emer. Takashi Ito (University of Tokyo, former visiting researcher of the NDL)>>

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  • OKUBO, Toshiaki. 1996. Nihon kindai shigaku kotohajime. Iwanamishoten. [NDL call no.: GK114-G3]
  • ITO, Takashi. 2015. Rekishi to watashi. Chuokoronshinsha. [NDL call no.: GB411-L121]
  • NINOMIYA, Saburo. "Seiji shiryo chosa jimukyoku enkaku." Reference service and bibliography 37. March 1990. National Diet Library. [NDL call no.: Z21-291]
  • NINOMIYA, Saburo. "Kenseishiryoshitu zenshi" (jo, chu, ge). Reference service and bibliography 43-45. September 1993, August 1994, October 1995. National Diet Library. [NDL call no.: Z21-291]
  • HORIUCHI, Hiroo. "Kensei shiryo shushu gyoumu no keisho." The Library journal 102(7). July 2008. Nihon toshokan kyokai. [NDL call no.: Z21-130]
  • ITO, Takashi. SUETAKE, Yoshiya. (editors) 2004-2011. Kingendai nihon jinbutsu shiryo joho jiten (in four volumes). Yoshikawa Kobunkan. [NDL call nos.: GB12-H27 (vol.1) / GB12-H41 (vol.2) / GB12-H64 (vol.3) / GB12-J37 (vol.4)]

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Publicity works and exhibitions

We provide brief introductions for newly acquired materials (some of them have PDF format catalog in addition) in Research Navi on the NDL website. Especially for major papers, we also introduce them in articles in "Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan Geppo (National Diet Library Monthly Bulletin)" with some photos of the material. Furthermore, we make the most of some items by exhibiting them in our Online Galleries like "Birth of the Constitution of Japan" (supervised by Prof. Katsutoshi Takami, then Senior Specialist of the NDL) and "Modern Japan in archives" (supervised by Prof. Takashi Sasaki, then visiting researcher of the NDL, with English translation supervised by Prof. emer. George Akita of the University of Hawaii), and of course in some conventional exhibitions that commemorate the 110th and 120th anniversary of the establish of the Diet, and annual regular exhibitions9 hosted by the NDL.

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