Military History

Applying the Lessons of the Past to the Present

Senshi-SoshoSenshi-Sosho

As the nation's foremost organization engaging in military history research, NIDS not only studies domestic and international military history but also recently expands the breadth of its research to the development of security policy after the World War II, which is becoming a part of history, in order to meet the request of defense policy decision-makers in a more appropriate manner, and demands for better education of SDF. NIDS also preserves historical documents about the Imperial Army and Navy, which are open to the public.

In 2011, ex-Military History Department has been reorganized into Center for Military History, whose three subdivisions are Military History Division, National Security Policy Division, and International Conflict Division. In addition, Military Archives have been incorporated into the center.

The NIDS Center for Military History dates back to 1955, when its predecessor, the Office of War Study, was established for the collection and organization of documents and records of the Imperial Army and Navy, as well as for the compilation of the military history of the Pacific War for publication.

The military history thus compiled was published as the Senshi-Sosho, in a total of 102 volumes, from 1966 through 1980. The books are now undergoing a digitization processes for future release on the NIDS website.

Research and Studies

Research on military history provides the foundation for the examination of the present and future natural security environments and issues. Foreign countries' perspectives of war history is another important theme of study since the sharing of common historical perspectives among nations through long‒term joint research and exchanges is highly meaningful for the maintenance and improvement of mutual relationships. For this reason, NIDS now takes a multi perspective approach in its history research activities to extend the scope of its research beyond the concept of a one‒sided "Japanese" or "Overseas" military history.

Based on the recent research trends and historical materials, NIDS has been working on the research themes below to continue verification of historical facts associated with military history and also to contribute to security policy making for contemporary Japan from the historical perspective.

・Review of World War II military history
NIDS has been compiling World War II military history based on newly released historical materials, recent research findings, and perspectives from foreign countries.

・Collection of Japanese post-war security policy history
NIDS has been collecting oral history and historical materials on Japanese post-war security policy, including the establishment and subsequent development of the SDF.

・Research on international conflict history
NIDS has been studying past international conflicts around the world in order to teach historical lessons that would contribute to future security policy making as well as the SDF's education.


The compilation of military history requires the constant uncovering of new historical facts, in addition to the re-examination of historical facts already revealed. Since more military history archives have become accessible in foreign countries with the passing of time, NIDS is making a strong effort to study and collect the necessary military history documents to discover new historical facts.

 

Recording and Preservation of Oral Histories

Oral HistoryOral History

In addition to the collection and assessment of documents related to the Pacific War, NIDS focuses on recording and preserving oral histories through interviews to contribute to the compilation of Japanese national security policy history.

Survey and Recovery of Military and Naval Documents and Records of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy

The compilation of military history requires the constant uncovering of new historical facts, in addition to the re-examination of historical facts already revealed. Since more military history archives have become accessible in foreign countries with the passing of time, NIDS is making a strong effort to study and collect the necessary military history documents to discover new historical facts.

Open Access to Military and Naval Documents and Records

The NIDS Center for Military History Archive was originally the reference room of the military archives in the NIDS Library. On March 30, 2001, it was designated by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications as a special historical archive. On April 1, 2002, NIDS was reorganized and the facility has been serving as the Military Archive since then.

The collection at the Center for Military History Archive includes: the record of the Imperial Army and Navy, which was transferred in 1956 from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (presently the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare), in charge of veterans affairs at that time, to the Office of War History; and documents that were seized by the Allied occupation forces upon Japan's surrender in 1945 but returned from the U.S. Department of State. In addition to the above, NIDS has collected historical documents that were created and possessed by individuals between the 1868 Meiji Restoration and 1945. Currently, the NIDS collection amounts to approximately 155,000 documents about the Imperial Army and Navy (58,000 documents on the Army, 37,000 on the Navy, and 60,000 books on military history in general).

Like the National Archives of Japan, the NIDS Center for Military History Archive has made these documents available to the public and also accepts inquiries about the collection. The Archive receives approximately 1,500 inquiries from inside and outside Japan and is visited by approximately 3,500 users per year.

Furthermore, the Archive digitizes the military history archives (official documents) and provides the data to the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, National Archives of Japan (www.jacar.go.jp/english/).

Order of Imperial General HQs, ArmyAction ReportsOrder of Imperial General HQs, Army (Great East Asia War) / Action Reports (Japan-Russo War)

Administration Division
The National Institute for Defense Studies :
5-1 ichigayahonmuracho, shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8808 Japan
Phone: +81-3-3260-3019
FAX: +81-3-3260-3039