It is a great honor to have this opportunity to give a presentation of our JapanKnowledge service at EAJRS. Our company, NetAdvance is a relatively young firm, founded in 2000. It is 67% owned byShogakukan, Inc., a major Japanese publishing house, with the remaining 37% held by three IT firms—Fujitsu, NEC and CAC. The mission of the company is to disseminate, as digital resources, publications that have been created by publishing companies over the years. Although NetAdvance is in practice an affiliate of Shogakukan, our business is not limited to the digitized dissemination of Shogakukan’s publications; we are also engaged in the distribution of high-quality contents chosen from among the many books and magazines published in Japan, using a platform called JapanKnowledge. Incidentally, Shogakukan is one of Japan’s largest publishing houses, being consistently ranked among the top three in the number of titles published, circulation, and sales. Shogakukan’s president serves in many key posts in official industry organizations.

Five years ago, NetAdvance established a portal site called Japan Knowledge to make it possible for users to make blanket searches based on the Encyclopedia Super Nipponica, an encyclopedia compiled by Shogakukan over the years, the Digital Daijisen Japanese Dictionary, a dictionary of the Japanese language, and the Random House English-Japanese Dictionary. Today, JapanKnowledge has earned a solid reputation as Japan’s outstanding Web site for searching for knowledge, and it includes contents from many publishing houses as well as newspapers. As is clear from the attached data on the contents, the total number of entries available for searching exceeds 1.6 million, an equivalent of 20,000 books. We intend to further expand the contents and improve their quality, and are pleased to describe this site as the equivalent of “having a small library at home.”
The Japanese publishing industry is no stranger to the growing difficulty in selling printed encyclopedias and dictionaries. The publication of materials with great material importance is also becoming ever harder. Yet, there is a strong and persistent demand by users for documents of high value that are unavailable on a commercial basis. JapanKnowledge aims precisely to meet this demand by building and disseminating a database of digital resources.

As is well known, we live today in an environment where a plethora of data is available via the Internet. At JapanKnowledge, we are also utilizing the Internet as a media to deliver, to as many readers as possible, the contents that publishers have built up over the years as part of their social responsibility. While there are many search engines that can be used free of charge, we have chosen to be a fee-charging and responsible site, with the aim to become the largest and most reliable site for access to knowledge on Japan.
As of September 2006, our user base was distributed as follows:

  • Universities in Japan 180
  • Libraries in Japan 40
  • High schools in Japan 17
  • Research institutions in Japan 6
  • Corporations in Japan 36
  • Universities in North America 33
  • Libraries in North America 1

We hope to more than double these numbers within the next few years. In order to achieve this goal, we are working to improve and expand the contents available on the JapanKnowledge search engine. Steps being taken in this regard include the incorporation of the following publications, which we believe will be valuable additions to the database.
The Nippon Rekishi Chimei Taikei (Comprehensive collection of historical and geographical names, 50 volumes, published by Heibonsha) will be released at the beginning of October, to be followed by Nippon Kokugo Daijiten (Great dictionary of the Japanese language, with 500,000 Japanese entries accompanied by 1 million examples of use, and which has been called Japan’s answer to the OED) by Shogakukan. In addition, we are planning to launch a search function for Shogakukan’s Nippon Koten Bungaku Zenshu (Anthology of classic Japanese literature, 88 volumes), with a target date set for the autumn of 2007. Thus, we are working hard to create an interesting JapanKnowledge, which lives up to our users’ expectations, which keep growing day by day.