Hōya Tōru
Historiographical Institute, the University of Tokyo. Professor





Researching the Collection and Utilization of Overseas Japan-related Historical Sources

In 1888, the Imperial University (present-day The University of Tokyo) history instructor Ludwig Riess (1861–1928) submitted an opinion statement to the university which stated, “In the national archives of the Netherlands at The Hague, there are many precious sources relating to Japanese history.” This led to the University subsequently engaging in the first ever overseas survey of Japan-related historical sources. In the 1920s, the Japan Academy began a Union Académique Internationale (UAI) overseas Japan-related historical sources survey project. In 1954, it was taken over by the Historiographical Institute.

Historiographical Institute now holds 2739 reals (1.56 million images) of 16-19 century Japan-related documents by microfilms, collected from Foreign countries with international support, and we have constructed a digital Archive of these through this research project. Furthermore, we made multi-archival survey and analysis of the historical sources by several research teams. And the newly collected and digitally archived archives have reached 770,000 images, totaling 2.42 million images in 70 archives of 20 countries. The database with these digital images is available on the HI’s reading room.

In this report, I will cover this research project’s progress and ultimate aims, as well as discuss the results of an on-going historical sources survey and joint research in Russia.