The Role of the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS)

The Role of the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS)

The National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) is the Ministry of Defense's core policy research arm, conducting research and studies with a policy orientation primarily on security and military history, while also serving as a strategic college-level educational institution for the training of high-level officers of the Self-Defense Forces. In addition, NIDS engages in such activities as the administration of military and naval documents, records and publications, and is considered to be the nation's foremost military history research center.

The National Defense Program Guidelines for FY2005, approved by the Security Council and Cabinet in December 2004, stated that NIDS "will promote activities related to research and education on security issues." In addition, the Mid-Term Defense Program (FY2005-2009) states that "The GOJ will improve the research and education function of the National Institute for Defense Studies regarding security policy."

NIDS proactively engages in research, studies, education and training, and places a strong emphasis on international exchanges and information dissemination. NIDS' work in each of these areas is widely recognized, establishing it as the pre-eminent institution dealing with security policy in Japan.


  • Aug. 1952
    Founded as the National Safety College
  • Jul. 1954
    Renamed the National Defense College
  • May 1956
    Office of War History transferred from the Ground Staff College to the National Defense College
  • Apr. 1973
    Research Department (consisting of six research offices), and Education Department established, to facilitate better performance for both research and education missions
  • May 1976
    Office of War History renamed as the Military History Department (consisting of two research offices)
  • Jul. 1984
    Research Department reorganized into the First and Second Research Departments in order to strengthen research in international relations
  • Apr. 1985
    Renamed the National Institute for Defense Studies in order to enhance its ability to conduct policy research
  • Oct. 1994
    Libraries of the Ground, Maritime, Air and Joint Staff Colleges incorporated into the NIDS Library (main building)
  • Mar. 2001
    The NIDS Library (reference room of military archives) designated as a historical archives by the Minister of Public Management
  • Apr. 2002
    The NIDS Military Archives officially established in the Library
  • Aug. 2002
    50th anniversary of the National Institute for Defense Studies
  • Apr. 2004
    Executive Director established and the First and Second Research Departments are reorganized into the Research Department. Research and studies and frameworks for international exchange are reinforced and strengthened
  • Jan. 2007
    Renamed the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense
  • Apr. 2009
    The Seventh Research Office established in the Research Department
  • Sep. 2011
    The Research Department was reorganized into the Policy Research Department, Theoretical Study Department, and Regional Study Department, the Department of Military History Study and the Library (history archive room only) were reorganized into the Center for Military History and the Planning Department was created.
  • Aug. 2012
    NIDS celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding
  • Apr. 2015
    Executive Director, Director (International Exchange and Libraries), and Director(Policy Simulation) established. (added)
  • Apr. 2016
    China Division established in the Regional Studies Department
  • Aug. 2016
    Relocated to Ichigaya from Meguro


NIDS Organization

Planning and Administration Department

General affairs, human resources, accounting, planning and coordination of research and education/training

Policy Studies Department

Conducts research on defense policies, defense buildup and military operations of Japan and other countries, and global security affairs

Security Studies Department

Conducts research on government, legislations, society, defense economics and post-conflict development

Regional Studies Department

Conducts research on international relations and security challenges in regions of the world

Education Department

Provides education on national security affairs to senior officers of the SDF and equivalent civilian officials of the MOD and other government agencies

Center for Military History

Conducts research on military history, compiles military history and maintains military history archives

Director, International Exchange and Libraries

Supports research and educational activity being conducted at NIDS, the Joint Staff College the GSDF, MSDF and ASDF Staff Colleges by providing research and study and book regarding international research and educational exchanges

Director, Policy Simulation

Conducts research on management and operation of self defense force