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Japanese Studies Primary Sources in Western Languages: Gov. documents

Using Government Documents

Government documents include the records of any official body, ranging from local to international levels. There exist vast amounts of documents from and related to Japan, although the majority of non-Japanese language sources tend to focus on post-1853 affairs. The records of the U.S. Department of State or the British Foreign Office, for instance, contain a large number of documents concerning trade, international treaties, expatriate concerns in Japan, diplomatic issues on the Asian continent, and so on.

Need help with your government information research? Talk to a librarian!

Melanie Maksin - Librarian for Political Science, International Affairs, Public Policy, and Government Information
Haruko Nakamura - Librarian for Japanese Studies

From Yale's Government Information Collection

United States. Congress (86th, 2nd). Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States of America and Japan. 86th Cong., 2d sess. Senate. Executive E. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1960.

Japanese Government Documents in English

Most Japanese government documents are, unsurprisingly, in Japanese. In recent years, however, an increasing number of documents have been published in English, for both the national and local governments.

  • The National Diet Library has a small section in English which provides links to various government agencies; most of the material is in Japanese only, but the links to the various ministries, agencies, and bureaus may lead to further English-language material.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides good archival documents and policies of major countries.
  • The 3-volume print series Diplomacy of Japan 1894-1922 contains English translations of documents, telegrams, memos, and other diplomatic materials. 
  • The Library of Congress created a checklist of its microfilm collections of Japanese government documents. Most documents are in Japanese, but some are bilingual or in English. This checklist can be a useful source to identify documents available here at Yale or elsewhere. See Japanese Government Documents and Censored Publications: A Checklist of the Microfilm Collection

Legal Resources and Treaties

The Yale Law Library's Country by Country Guide to Foreign Law Research highlights resources related to law in Japan. If your research involves international law (legal relations between nations/states), consult YLL's resources for Foreign, International, and Transnational Law

The University of Washington's East Asian Law Department also provides a number of useful links and suggestions for legal research on modern Japan.

To find the text of treaties, begin with the UN Treaty Collection.

Inter-governmental Organizations (IGOs)

United States and Japan

The Foreign Relations of the United States series is an essential source for U.S. foreign affairs and diplomatic history. Produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian, FRUS is compiled from declassified documents including memos, cables, reports, and more. You can access FRUS:

Some of the microfilm collections below are also available through Yale's subscription databases; these titles are in bold.

Britain and Japan

Allied Occupation of Japan