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Japanese Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress


A Japanese rare book from 1854. The cover is worn and bears many ink stamps indicating previous ownership by institutions in Japan.
The cover of Sangoku tsūran zusetsu (Illustrated Survey of Three Countries). 1854. Japanese Rare Book Collection. Library of Congress Asian Division.

The Japanese collection comprises some 1.2 million monograph volumes that cover all fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as diverse topics in science and technology. All of these Japanese-language books are available in the Asian Reading Room.

Please note that all publications pertaining to law and legal topics are housed and served in the Law Library, while works about Japan in English, French, German, and other European languages are accessible in the Library's Main Reading Room.

Among collection items published prior to 1946, a large portion come from the body of materials captured by the Allied Forces during the Occupation of Japan (1945-52) after World War II. During the Occupation, Allied Forces personnel gathered any documents or publications deemed to be of potential value for intelligence gathering purposes and sent them back to the United States for processing at the Washington Document Center (WDC). From there, government documents and records were sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), while published materials were directed to the Library of Congress.

Among scholars and librarians these materials have come to be known as "confiscated" or "requisitioned" literature (sesshū bunken 接収文献). The numerous varieties of printed material captured during and immediately after WWII represent some of the most unique items in the Library's Japanese collection. Many of these publications are the only ones of their kind available outside of Japan.

Special Japanese Book Collections

Within the Japanese collection, there are several significant groupings of publications that share a common theme, topic, or provenance. Listed below are some notable examples. For more information about any of these collections, please contact Japanese reference staff through the Ask a Librarian service.

[Jihenka zaishi Nihon-gawa kikan ni yoru chōsa shiryō] [事變下在支日本側機關による調查資料]

This collectively catalogued collection of 1,096 items contains reports (including serial publications) on China and the Inner Mongolian region issued by the Japanese government or Japanese controlled organizations, grouped together by issuing bodies, and consecutively numbered according to a list prepared by scholar Imura Tetsuo 井村哲郎.

Some of the major issuing bodies featured are listed below.

  • Kahoku Kōtsū Kabushiki Kaisha 華北交通株式會社
  • Kahoku Sangyō Kagaku Kenkyūjo 華北產業科學硏究所
  • Kahoku Sōgō Chōsa Kenkyūjo 華北綜合調查研究所
  • Kita Shina Kaihatsu Kabushiki Kaisha 北支那開發株式會社
  • Kōain 興亞院
  • Kōchū Kōshi 興中公司
  • Kōhoku Kōgyō Kōshi 江北興業公司
  • Naka Shina Shinkō Kabushiki Kaisha 中支那振興株式會社
  • Shanhai Shisei Kenkyūkai 上海市政研究會
  • Tairiku Chōsakai 大陸調查會
  • Tōa Kaiun Kabushiki Kaisha 東亞海運株式會社.

[Kyū Manshūkoku kankei shiryō] [旧滿洲國關係資料]

This collectively catalogued collection of 871 items includes reports (including serial publications) chiefly issued by the government of Manchuria (agencies and institutions, national and local), and quasi-governmental organizations in Manchuria, excluding the South Manchuria Railway Company, grouped together by issuing bodies or geographic areas and consecutively numbered according to a list prepared by scholar Imura Tetsuo 井村哲郎.

Some of the major issuing bodies featured are listed below.

  • Dairen Shōkō Kaigisho 大連商工會議所
  • Harubin Shōhin Chinretsukan 哈爾賓商品陳列舘
  • Manshū Teikoku Kyōwakai 滿洲帝國協和會
  • Manshū Chūō Ginkō 滿洲中央銀行
  • Manshū Dengyō Kabushiki Kaisha 滿洲電業株式會社
  • Manshū Denshin Denwa Kabushiki Kaisha 滿洲電信電話株式會社
  • Manshū Jijō Annaijo 滿洲事情案內所
  • Manshū Jūkōgyō Kaihatsu Kabushiki Kaisha 滿洲重工業開發株式會社
  • Manshū Kōgyō Ginkō 満洲興業銀行
  • Manshū Kōgyō Kaihatsu Kabushiki Kaisha 滿洲鑛業開發株式會社
  • Manshū Teikoku Kyōwakai 滿洲帝國協和會
  • Manshū Tokusan Chūōkai 滿洲特產中央會

[Kyū Nihon Riku-Kaigun shiryō = 旧日本陸海軍資料]

This collectively catalogued collection contains nearly 6,000 titles related to various aspects of the former Japanese Imperial Army and Navy, as well as military topics more generally. Coverage begins with the Meiji period and extends through the immediate aftermath of World War II. All items begin with the call number CLC U21.

To search for specific works within this collection, combine the search term "CLC U21" with a keyword in romanized Japanese or an English term from a Library of Congress Subject Heading. For example, a search for CLC U21 torpedo? using the multiple-character wildcard "?" will return results for all items with "torpedo" or "torpedoes" in their subject heading.

South Manchuria Railway Company Publications

The Library of Congress holds some 6,000 Japanese-language works published by the former South Manchuria Railway Company (SMRC), which operated from 1906 to 1945. These publications include hardbound books, paperback books, pamphlets, and periodicals. Also found in this collection are manuscripts consisting of drafts of published and unpublished works handwritten on official SMRC stationery. Many items are in fragile condition due to their age and require careful handling. Most of these items are housed in the Asian Division, but some can also be found in the Law Library and the Geography and Map Division. For further information, please consult the following research guide.