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Links to the National Bureaucracy
This page is devoted to information about Japan's national governmental ministries and agencies, and the interaction among them
Japan ’s central government ministries and agencies have made remarkable progress during the past few years in the creation of presentation of English language versions of their official web pages. Nearly all provide useful information on Japan's government and politics, and in accessible format. Below are links to the most useful sites, with brief assessments of each and suggestions for viewing sections that should not be missed.
Government Ministries and Agencies with English Language Websites
Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Kantei website is a remarkably rich source of English language information, much of it tucked away in out-of-the-way places where it may be missed. Effort seems to have been made to include as much as possible on the first page. So careful search through the text, images, and links is well worth the effort.
The lists and photos of current and past prime ministers and cabinets under on the left-hand side are expected. But the “Governmental Framework” section offers unexpected material for the non-Japanese-reading researcher and student. The easiest way to access it is to click on the “Governmental Framework” heading itself to open a sub-page with the links it contains.
The “Links” page includes a convenient “Statistics” section that in addition to “Statistical Data in Japan” includes topic-specific statistics compiled by the Finance, Education, and Agriculture ministries, all presented in English. This page also includes a link to the comprehensive “WebJapan” project that describes itself as the “gateway for all Japanese information.”
Below that, is an innocuous-looking link, “Introduction of Ministries and Other Organizations.” This leads to an excellent interactive page with useful information on each government ministry and major agencies.
Finally, the “Policy Initiatives” link at the very bottom of the page provides access to useful English language summaries of government reports. This site is so rich in information, less patient browsers may find the “site map” at the right-hand top of the page a better means of navigation.
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The broad responsibilities of the newly formed Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is reflected in the English translation of their mission statement: “The MCI is responsible for creating the fundamental national systems of Japan.”
This well-designed page requires little commentary since most sections are obviously labeled. The White Papers on information and communications, public interest corporations, and local and public finance are useful.
And be sure not to miss the link to the “Information and Communications Policy,” which provides current and comprehensive information on Japan's efforts to harness information technology of all kinds.
At the bottom of the main page under “External Organs,” click on the “Science Council of Japan.” [This link works; the one on the web page at the moment doesn't.] The left-hand navigation bar on this site has links to useful science policy-related information.
|Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs . The Ministry maintains one of the best sites for English language statistics on Japan available on the Web. This is the place for researchers, lecturers, and students who don't read Japanese to start their search for statistical information related to Japan. The major economic, demographic, geographic and social indicators all are available here in easy-to-access format. Scroll down for on-line versions of the "Japan Statistical Yearbook," "Japan Monthly Statistics," "Historical Statistics of Japan," and the more compact "Japan in Figures." The Statistical System section of the page provides background on the collection and analysis of statistical information in Japan.|
Ministry of Justice. The “Preface” of the Ministry of Justice’s excellent English language web page may lead the casual browser to conclude that page is all there is. Be sure to click on the “Go to Index” link at the lower left-hand corner of the preface page. That opens a no-nonsense table of contents page full of useful information.
The “Organization” link opens an interactive chart with links for the major ministerial sub-units that provide succinct explanations of the sub-unit’s functions.
Other links on the Index page vary in the amount of information they include. Some have a single paragraph describing the activities of the unit. Others include a surprising amount of detained information and English language translations of important documents.
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers a professional, easy-to-navigate English language website. From the three-column format of the home page, to the inclusion of a comprehensive search facility (at the top of the left column), it is one of the best government-sponsored sites available for the English language reader.
The Site Map link opens another well-designed page that is recommended for specific topical searches.
Note that the “Main Menu” of the site begins halfway down the left-hand column, with links to foreign policy, economic affairs, regional affairs and other sections of the site.
The center column of the home page is devoted to current “news” items and a comprehensive news item archive that goes back to May 1998. These items are text-word searchable through the search engine provided on the home page. Items from 2004 and earlier years can be found at the bottom of the page.
Be sure to look through the right-hand column of the Foreign Ministry home page, or the “Special Menu.” Here the Ministry provides links to pages offering comprehensive information on investment and travel in Japan, events of diplomatic significance, and other topics thought to be of interest to the international browser. These sites too, without exception, are comprehensive and well presented. Many include streaming video.
Digital copies of the English language versions of Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebooks can be found near the bottom of this column
Ministry of Finance. This is an austere site, with little effort wasted on visual frills. Most of the homepage real estate is devoted to “topics” the Ministry has selected that may be of interest to English-speaking readers, or that the Ministry wants to publicize. “Highlights of the Budget for FY2005,” for example, does not inspire excitement at first glance. But the PDF file attached to the link provides a well organized summary of the key points of the national budget with just the right amount of detail. Other links lead to equally useful information.
The nav bar on the right-hand side of the page is organized topically and proves easy to navigate. The “Periodicals” section leads to on-line English language publications of the Ministry and its research institutes. Financial Review provides comprehensive article abstracts for 25 issues of this quarterly. The Monthly Finance Review is available full-text from October 1999 to the current issue. In addition to its articles, the Review provides useful current statistical information in each edition. The OIRC Newsletter from the Ministry’s Policy Research Institute offers photos and articles in a more informal format.
|Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.Imagine having to design the website for an organization called the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. MEXT’s site reflects the difficulty of this task. Here too “Topics” takes up much of the home page. Some are useful, but many are surprisingly out of date. Announcements of programs designed to improve English language usage in Japan offer insights into this effort. At the bottom of the page, links to more English language documents are arranged under the sensible headings of “Education,” “Science and Technology,” “Culture and Sports,” and an un-named category that offers a 1997 ministerial budget and ministry-related white papers of historical interest|
|Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare . Emphasis here too seems to be placed on the Japanese language site. The English version is quite limited. “Topics” dominate the homepage, with emphasis on items in the news during the past couple of years. The links to ministry-related statistics and white papers on the left of the page are quite limited. The best feature of the English language page is the detailed description of the organization and responsibilities of the various components of the Ministry. This is found both under “Organization” and under “Policy Information” at the bottom of the page. The “Related Site Links” pointer in the upper right-hand corner of the page leads to a useful section of links to social welfare-related organizations, though some links appear to be out of date|
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. This English language website is worth a visit even by those with no interest in agriculture, forestry, or fishing. The homepage is efficiently organized and appears to be regularly updated. The “About MAFF” section on the upper left-hand side of the page provides a useful organization chart that includes the Japanese official title together with the English language translations of the ministry’s various offices.
Don’t miss the linked topics at the top of the page in “A Guide to MAFF.” The whole document offers useful summaries of the roles of various sections of the ministry. The “Public Information” and “Topics” sections provide links to the expected statements of ministry positions on issues in the news. The “MAFF UPDATE” links offers an archive of the ministry’s weekly English language newsletters back to January 1992, a useful reference for those researching agricultural trade issues. The “Statistics” page contains only two links at the top. Be sure to click both. Each leads to comprehensive English language statistical information on topics of interest to this ministry
Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. METI clearly understands the importance of electronic information. Their website, maintained by the Public Relations Office, provides an enormous amount of useful English language material on Japan’s domestic economic and international economic relations. The site is well designed and maintained daily. With so much information, an effective search facility is essential. That is provided at the very top of the homepage. It is slow in English, but thorough, and worth the wait.
The press releases offered under the “Topics” heading are so numerous that they have been arranged by date. A useful archives of topics goes back to March 3, 2003. The “What’s New” section just below that offers English language versions of recently released ministry reports.
The nav bar on the right-hand side of the homepage provides links to white papers, statistics, English translations of a few important speeches, and other reports produced by the ministry. Click on the “Organization” link in the right-hand nav bar, and click again on the “About METI” link at the top of that page to open a sophisticated page that provides access to useful ministry-specific information. Finally, the “Search by Policy” section offers links to a wealth of useful English language material arranged in logical topical fashion.
|Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy.The CEFP was established in January 2001 to strengthen prime ministerial coordination of economic and fiscal policy. Their website offers several interesting English language pamphlets created in 2002 to explain structural reform. And the “Publication” section provides quite a few detailed English language summaries of economic policies, with emphasis on structural reform.|
|Economic and Social Research Institute. ESRI describes itself as the “forum for knowledge” for the Cabinet and the Cabinet’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy. It conducts “…theoretical and experimental research related to economic activities and policies, social activities, and other issues.”
Click the “Research and Publications” bubble for English language abstracts and some full texts of ESRI publications. The “ESRI Discussion Papers” section is the most current, but the other sections have valuable background material in English. Comprehensive statistical information is provided under the “Statistics” and “System of National Accounts” headings. Don’t miss the diverse documents available under the “Training” section.The “ESRI-HISTST-JIP DATABASE” button links to the English and Japanese versions of the Japan Industry Productivity Database covering the period from 1970 to 1998. Information on ESRI-sponsored conferences and workshops are linked under the “Information” section, which takes up much of the remainder of the homepage.
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. Don’t let the MLIT homepage’s sparse appearance discourage you. Links under the three main sections of “Introduction,” “Information,” and “Public Information” all lead to useful English language materials. The first heading under “Introduction,” for example, leads to 26 useful PDF files that describe the organization and functions of the ministry. The next link leads to a summary translation of last year’s White Paper.
The headings of the “Information” section lead to information as diverse as ministry general policies, urban development, public construction, and a clear English language explanation of Japan’s motor vehicle registration and inspection system. The tight organization of this site puts much of its useful information several layers down, so keep drilling!
A click on the Airports and Air Network Information button at the bottom of the page leads to a sophisticated interactive map of Japan prepared by the Civil Aviation Bureau. In addition to air route information it offers photos and description of tourist sites throughout the country.
|Ministry of the Environment. This site is organized to provide as many links as possible straight from the home page. The categories listed in the right-hand navigation bar are largely self-explanatory. Click the various buttons on the nav bar to access environment-related laws, ministerial white papers, and other valuable resources. This site is well organized and easy to navigate.|
|Japan Ministry of Defense.The Japan Ministry of Defense English language website has been redone to reflect the change in status from a government Agency to a Ministry. It features skillful use of photographs throughout, as well as clear links to more specific information. Very easy to navigate, and a great improvement over the previous site.|
|Science and Technology Agency. As befitting an institution with “science” and “technology” in its name, JST boasts one of the most advanced Government of Japan websites. Beautifully organized, its links are clearly labeled and effectively presented. Don’t miss the clickable link in the upper-right-hand corner of the page which will take you to the JTS Brochure. The links on the left-hand side of the page all lead to useful information on promotion and creation of technology, including some researcher exchange and research support opportunities. The “Links to Databases” in the lower left-hand corner with a click direct the browser to seven databases of article abstracts and other useful information. The site is maintained regularly and provides current information .|