ASSOCIATION OF PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARIANS

OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (APLAP)

 

EIGHTH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE

NEW DELHI, INDIA

 

18-22 JANUARY 2005

 

 

 

 

SESSION 2

19.1.2005  (1400 Hrs)

 

RESEARCH AND REFERENCE SERVICES

FOR MEMBERS

 

 

 

COUNTRY PAPER OF JAPAN

 

by

 

KEIJI TSUCHIYA

 

Senior Specialist

Research and Legislative Bureau

National Diet Library

Japan


DEVELOPMENT OF PROGRAMS FOR ENHANCEMENT OF RESEARCH AND REFERENCE SERVICES TO DIET MEMBERS IN THE

 THIRD MILLENNIUM

 

Introduction

The Research and Legislative Reference Bureauthe Research Bureauof the National Diet Library has the function of providing legislative support services for the National Diet, the parliament of Japan“the Diet”.

 

The mission of the Research Bureau remains unchanged, but its practices have inevitably been transformed according to meet the new needs for legislative research  services to reflect political, economical or social changes.

 

The most noticeable changes in these early years of the new millennium are the reforms of the Diet, the development of “the Information Society” or “Digital Society”, and the “Internationalization of Society” in Japan.

 

 Evolutional movements in the Diet have been emerging in tangible form since the 1990s, as follows

 

(1) The advancement in the legislative and policy-making abilities of the Members of the Diet has been shown by the increasing number of bills proposed on the Membersown initiatives since 1993.

 

(2) A Preliminary Research System was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1998, in accordance with the Amendment of the National Diet Law1947 Law No.79).At the same timethe functions of monitoring and auditing the Executive Branch were enhanced in both Houses, when the appropriate committees were established. 

 

(3) In 1999, the Act for Promotion of Debate in the Diet was enacted1999 Law No. 116, which abolished the position of Executive Officer in charge of explaining in the Diet and introduced the Face-To-Face Discussion between the Prime Minister and the Heads of Parties in the Diet, thereby enhancing the deliberation system.

 

(4) In January 2000Research Commissions on the Constitution were established in both Houses to research and review the Constitution of JapanThe Commissions have energetically endeavored to investigate both the domestic and the foreign constitutional problemsusing the personnel of the Diet Secretariats as well as the senior staff of our Research Bureau

 

These transformations in the Diet have brought out the changes of needs in legislative support. 

 

Development of Programs towards the New Millennium

The Research Bureau has endeavored to provide services and mechanisms to meet the needs emerging from the reforms in the DietTo cope with the needs mentioned abovethe Bureau has endeavored to plan and implement some programs in these years

 

1. Reorganization of the Research Bureau (April 2001)

The Research Bureau reorganized its structure to make its services to the Diet more efficientand started providing services based on its new organization from April 2001

 

The new Research Bureau has been framed in accordance with main targets in enhancing its function for planning and coordinating services providing materials and information for the research servicesestablishing an environment well suited to electronic information, enhancing its research units, steadily carrying out interdisciplinary research, and enhancing its research on foreign legislation

 

2. The Basic Plan for Services to the Diet (March 2001)

In March 2001, the Research Bureau announcedThe Basic Plan for Services to the

Dietproviding for a period of about five years after the start of the new Bureau

 

This Plan outlines and describes the main policies and the specific menu of the services for the Diet, presenting targets for, enhancing its research through an analytical approach, carrying out interdisciplinary research from a multi-perspectives viewpoint, enhancing the research on foreign legislative affairs, improving its functions for delivering legislative information and making the related services more efficient,  and  establishing a service system that takes its feasibility into consideration. 

 

3. Reorganization of the National Diet Library (April 2002)

In April 2002, the National Diet Library reorganized its structure. It now consists of the Main Library in Tokyo which includes the Administrative Department, the Research Bureau, the Acquisitions Department, the Bibliography Department, the Public Services Department, the Reference and Special Collections Department, and the Detached Library in the Diet; the Kansai-kan which is a department of the NDL, the premises of which are located in the region neighboring both Osaka and Kyoto: the International Library of Children’s Literature, and the Toyo Bunko(Oriental Library).

 

The Research Bureau in the reorganized National Diet Library renovated the office for legislative materials so as to provide legislative materials and information including those received from governments at home and abroad or international organizations to the Dietthe executive and judicial branches of government, and also the public

 

4. National Diet Library Vision 2004drawn up in January 2004)

The National Diet Library has been working to provide services to satisfy the changing needs in the information and social environment. Two years after its fresh start, June 2004, the National Diet Library released the NDL Vision 2004 that specifies the mission and roles to be implemented and to chart the course to be taken in future.    

 

In this Vision, improvement of the research services to support the legislative activities of the Diet is given the highest priority.    

 

5. Short-term Program for Implementing Principal Program (July 2004)

Based on the assessment of the legislative support services to the Diet during the three years after the commencement of the Basic Plan, the Research Bureau worked out the short-term program to prescribe the tasks and how to proceed with them.

 

This program emphasizes the following:

* Highlyelaborated research and precise information services meeting legislative needs should be provided promptly.

* Products and compilations completed in the process of services should be published in a timely and appropriate manner through either the print or electronic media.

* Legislative information in electronic form, which is generated in the process of the

activities of the Diet, for instance proceedings and other information related to Acts, should be provided in such a manner that electronic devices are used to the full to guarantee promptness and convenience.

* In line with “NDL Vision 2004” and “Middle-range Strategy Electronic Library”, it is essential to expand and improve the Electronic Library Services to the Diet, establishing the infrastructure for those services without delay.

 

These programs above-mentioned have been developed in accordance with the changes in needs and the changes in the services provided in response to the changing needs.

 

Main affairs referred to in programs for enhancing services to the Diet

 

I  Enhancement of the substance of legislative research and reference services to the Diet 

 

1. Assessment on what has been done already

 

(1) Identification of the needs of the Diet

We have made efforts to collect, share and analyze information on Bills to be submitted to the Diet in the current session, through materials released by the Cabinet, the Secretariats of each House of the Diet and othersand to acquire information by means of questionnaires to Members of the Diet.

Howeverthere is still room for improvement in acquiring and analyzing information by every means available including electronic media so as to exactly identify those needs.

 

(2) Research in response to the requests

We have made substantial progress in:

* completing written reports

* summarizing or making abstracts of materials or information in foreign languages;  we do not deliver materials in the original text without comment by the researcher in charge to the Members, who do not always understand the foreign language, unless they request the originals,

* uniting and coordinating the work of each research section or unit in the Research Bureaucoping with interdisciplinary matters.

 

We need further to endeavor to   

 * report, explain, lecture, comment or advise actively on the matters concerned at the

committees or conference of the Members of the Diet.

 * enhance interdisciplinary researchor research from multiple perspectives.

* make closer selection or evaluation of the materials or information provided to assure the accuracy and usefulness.

* have the Members aware of the availability of the Web site ”Chosa no Mado” of the Research Bureau.

 

(3) Research on matters anticipated on the researchers’ initiatives

(a) We  have made substantial progress in ensuring the effective use of the “Basic Research Work Plan” which all staff members of the Research Bureau plan annually on their own initiative.

(b) ”The Outline of Political Issues at the Diet”, that provides brief explanations on the critical issues to be debated in the current Session of the Dietis to be published at the beginning of the Session, in the form of the Feature version of “Research and Information - ISSUE BRIEF –“ (to be referred to later). This service has been carried on since 2003 The latest version that deals  with specified issues relating to ”Science and Technology” was published in November 2004. 

(c) ”Interdisciplinary research” has steadily been developed, and the results have been published at least once a year.

The next step to be taken is a strict assessment of the performance of each researcher, and to provide the research of high quality through an analytical approach. 

(d) A research service system concerning the Constitution of Japan was established by the Office of the Constitution in the Research Bureau, corresponding to establishment of the Research Commission on the Constitution in each House of the Diet. The Office has made efforts not only to answer requests relevant to the Constitution in general but also to help the Commissions’ research activities and published reports on the constitutions of some foreign countries.

 

(4) Publication of the research findings

The research findings are to be provided to the Diet through various media such as:

a) “Reference”monthly

b) “Research and Information - ISSUE BRIEF –“

c) “Foreign Legislation” (quarterly; and bi-weekly version exclusively on the Diet WAN)

d) “Findings Monograph Series”

e) “Total Points of National Political Issues” (provided exclusively on the Diet WAN) 

 

They have been provided to the public through the Web site of NDL since January 2004, except those provided exclusively on the Diet WAN.

 

2. Planning

 

(1) Enhancement of identification of legislative research needs

(a) Identification of trends of needs

We should accurately identify the needs of the Diet through closer analysis of the trends of requests for legislative research by making full use of the function in statistics of the Total System for Research and Information Services, in order to prepare in advance materials corresponding to those needs through research on our own initiatives, so that we can respond to requests more promptly and accurately when they are raised.

(b) Identification of the critical issues in the current Session of the Diet.

 

(2) Enhancement of research through analytical approach

We should promote staff on the basis of their competence in order to enhance research

through analytical approach.

 

(3) Enhancement of anticipatory research

We have to carry on systematically and steadily the research according to the ”Basic Research Work Plan” based on the identified needs mentioned above.

 

(4) Promotion of the interdisciplinary research

We have to promote the research through a multi-perspective approach, with collaboration among several research units of the Research Bureau.

   

(5) Promotion of research of constitutions at home and abroad

We need to raise efficiency of the Office of the Constitution and the cooperation between

the Office and the other research units in the Research Bureau so that we can

thoroughly support the activities of the Research Commissions on the Constitution in

their final stages.

 

(6) Enhancement of the services providing information related to foreign legislation

We have to promote the collaboration between the Oversees Legislative Information 

Section and other research sections or units of the Research Bureau, as well as among

the staff of the Overseas Legislative Information Section, each of whom is in charge of

a different country. 

 

(7) Enhancement of the function to provide information to support the legislative activities of the Members of the Diet

We have to make rapid progress in applying IT to the function of  providing information to support the legislative activities of the Members of the Diet, in the following ways:

* Making contents of the Web site “Chosa no Mado” of the Research Bureau more substantial.

* Improving the function of either “Electronic Library” of NDL or “Navigation” for the information distributed outside of NDL.  

* Inform and encourage the Members of the Diet to make good use of the information provided on the Web site of the Research Bureau. 

 

II  Enhancement of the infrastructure for services to the Diet

 

1. Personnel and training

 

(1) Problems

* Recently the number of veteran staff has decreased in the Research Bureau.

* Younger staff have not yet gained sufficient expertise.

* The Research Bureau has few staff who have the competence in advanced analytic research.

 

(2) Countermeasures; personnel policy

(a) According to “the guideline for developing competence of the staff in NDL” we will carry out personnel placement to heighten their aptitude and specialization. 

(b) In FY2003 we adopted a mid-career recruitment system so that we can acquire more specialized staff.

(c) We will continue to interchange our staff with the Secretariats of both Houses and the other appropriate government agencies.

(d) Since FY2004 we have dispatched younger staff to study abroad or study in a Japanese university.

(e) For the tasks of interdisciplinary research, Constitutional research, overseas legislative information research and compilation of the index to the Japanese Laws and Regulations, we will hire guest researchers and part-time researchers successively. In case of the need for advanced professional expertise or knowledge of special languages we will utilize the ability of guest researchers or part-time researchers.

(f) In order to enrich our research services, we will endeavor to utilize external human resources, for example outsourcing a part of the research translations, writing and other work relevant to IT.

 

(3) Countermeasures; training

(a) We will improve the “research work training” programs to put emphasis on practical contents to meet the requests of Diet members.

(b) We will continue to carry out seminar-style training for the study of foreign statutes.

(c) We have introduced training programs from external institutes, such as orientations of commercial databases, training by the National Personnel Authority, or IDE-JETRO (Institute of Developing Economies), and we will continue to expand these activities.

(d) We will increase chances for researchers to learn foreign languages which have become important recently and remain a rarity in the Research Bureau.

 

2. Research Materials

 

(1) Since FY2003 the budget for purchasing research materials has increased by 36%. We will draw up “the action plan for acquisition of research materials” by March 2005, so that we can execute it efficiently. This plan’s purposes are for example:

(a) improve the work of selection and purchase of research materials

  (b) endeavor to introduce new titles of foreign electronic journals

(c) endeavor to grasp and collect materials and information of the executive and judicial agencies of Japan which cannot be acquired through the normal route

(d) improve the acquisition of foreign books and magazines to meet the needs of the Diet

(e) in the acquisition of electronic publications, in principle put more emphasis on network resources rather than packaged resources such as CD-ROMs.

 

(2) We have introduced commercial databases, for example, Factiva, Lexis-Nexis on the Web, Inside-Web and Data-Star. If any of these databases is rarely used, it can be replaced by another.

 

(3) In FY2004 we were admitted to membership of the “Japan Center for Economic Research”. Since then its services have been available to us.

 

 

3. Information dissemination from the Research Bureau

 

(1) In 2003 “Total System for Research and Information Services” got two additional functions,

(a) Exclusive page for Diet members

(b) SDI (Selective Dissemination of Information ) service, which gives the titles of newly published articles for Diet members registered for the service.

 

(2) “Index to Japanese Laws and Regulations Database” was opened to the public in June 2004.

 

(3) “Chosa-no-Mado (Gateway to Research) on the Website” started up (only for Diet members) in April 2004.

 

(4) The number of accesses to the “Full-text Database System for the Minutes of the Diet” is growing year after year. ( FY2002 : 400,076  FY2003 : 523,002 )

 

(5) Now we are engaged in construction of the “Full-text Database System for the Minutes of the Imperial Diet”.

 

(6) We started to provide digitized articles of the Research Bureau’s publications   through the NDL website in addition to “Chosa-no-Mado” on May 28, 2004 .

 

4. Parliamentary Documents and Official Publications

 

(1) In December 2003, the Parliamentary Documents and Official Publications Room was set up by integration of the Statutes and Parliamentary Documents Room and the Law, Politics and Official Publications Room. Since October 1, 2004, the Tokyo Main Library has extended its opening days and hours after the completion of its remodeling.  Now we are making efforts to improve services for the general public as well as Diet members.

 

(2) We will endeavor to collect parliamentary documents of several regions, which are difficult for us to acquire, for example, Asia, Latin-America and Northern Europe.

 

(3) We will endeavor to collect web resources of foreign organizations, especially those published only in electronic media. We will also try to build a structure for information exchange with foreign organizations through the Internet.

 

(4) We will endeavor to enrich the contents of the “Parliamentary Documents and Official Publications Room” on the NDL website.

 

5. Facilities and equipments

We have already refurbished the reading rooms for Diet Members. (14 individual study rooms, 1 seminar rooms, 5 meeting rooms )     

In addition, since October 2004, we have set up a “special study room” for secretaries of Diet members.

 

 

Conclusion

Whether the parliament can function well or not in the new millennium depends on the accurate and ample legislative support of the parliamentary library.  In order to enhance its support services, the parliamentary library should obtain all appropriate information and human resources available.  Among these, competence of the staff is the most important factor for enhancement of our research services.