This overview deals with the Library's collection of materials relating to the study of Japan. The Japanese Section of the Asian Division has custody of Japanese-language materials; other materials are in the general and special format collections.
The Japanese collection began modestly in l875, when the Japanese government accepted a proposal by the Smithsonian Institution for an exchange of government publications to be housed in the Library of Congress. The collection grew slowly in its early years, as there were no specialists with the expertise for the purchase of Japanese books and periodicals. The first area specialist on Japan was appointed in l930. In l938, the Japanese Section was established as a part of the then Orientalia Division - since l978 designated as the Asian Division. The Japanese collection grew to about 34,000 volumes by l94l.
The collection of Japanese-language materials increased dramatically after World War II, when nearly 300,000 volumes were added with the transfer of Japanese-language research resources collected during the Occupation of Japan in l945-l952 and sent initially to the Washington Document Center (WDC). Since then, holdings have been augmented systematically by the addition of a wide range of commercially published publications acquired by purchase, by exchange - comprehensive sets of Japanese government publications - as well as by gift from numerous individuals, societies, and institutions. Approximately l5,000 items of Japanese-language books and serials are added annually.
The Japan Documentation Center (JDC) was established in the Asian Division in l992 with the objective of acquiring documents and make them quickly accessible to Members of Congress and their staffs, Congressional Research Service, research libraries, and the interested public. Materials processed in the JDC are primarily documents and difficult-to-locate Japanese items on public policy issues concerning economic, political, social and military about contemporary Japan.
The Library's comprehensive collection of more than 750,000 volumes of Japanese-language publications represents the preeminent research resource on Japan outside that country itself. The collection includes nearly 25,000 periodical titles, including some 5,000 current titles, as well as nearly 7,500 reels of newspaper and government documents and some l4,000 sheets of microfiche.
Estimated Statistics on Cataloged Holdings
(all languages: l4,600 titles)
|History (World War II)||3,400 titles|
|Economics (H - HJ)||50,000 titles|
|Japanese Language and Literature||38,000 titles
(all languages: 43,000 titles)
|Fine Arts (N - NX)||l0,000 titles|
In qualitative terms, the Japanese language collection covers virtually all subjects of value to scholarship. The collection is especially rich in the humanities and social sciences as well as in the government publications and academic journals including the areas of science and technology. Overall, the composition of the collection is approximately 40 percent in the humanities, 40 percent in the social sciences, and 20 percent in general works, science and technology and bibliography.
No other library compares with the Library of Congress for its comprehensive coverage of western language publications on Japan. For other special format materials, the Library has unique old Japanese maps in the Geography & Map Division; rare pre-World War II Japanese feature films and newsreels in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division; and Japanese woodcut prints in the Prints and Photographs Division.
Among the unique and rare items and notable special research collections are:
- Hyakumanto dharani (One Million Prayer Charms): Among the world's oldest extant samples of printing, dating from 770 A.D., are small scrolls consisting of four dharani, passages from a Buddhist sutra used as prayer charms.
- The Crosby Stuart Noyes Collection: In l905, Mr. Noyes (l825- l908), presented the Library his collection of late l8th- and l9th- century Japanese illustrated books, prints and drawings.
- The Pre-Meiji Printed Books and Manuscripts Collection: This special collection consists of 3,l50 titles, in some l4,000 fascicles, of Pre-Meiji materials acquired by the Library.
- The South Manchurian Railway Company Collection: Among the materials transferred soon from the WDC after WWII, were the materials once held in the Company's library in Tokyo. The Company has long been recognized for its central role in the economic development and political expansion of Japan's prewar sphere of influence in Northeast Asia.
- The Washington Document Center Collection: Apart from the South Manchurian Railway Company Collection, other materials from the WDC. Most of these materials are works on pre-WWII studies of such areas as Korea, Taiwan, China, Mongolia, and the Pacific Islands.
The serial collection suffers from many missing issues, mainly those titles received from exchange sources. Also, multi-volumes sets are sometimes not complete, especially in the local history and literature. While the collection of science and technology serials is extensive, it can be further strengthened with additional titles available in Japan. Establishment of the Japan Documentation Center will strengthen the Library's collection of ephemeral policy documents relating to political, economic, social and national security issues and trends.