Photo/IllutrationThe National Archives of Japan is participating in the Japan Search project. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The government has moved forward on creating a one-stop database system for books, public documents, cultural properties and artworks that will improve cross-sectional searches and studies and bring Japan up to speed internationally.

A public trial run of the tentatively named “Japan Search” website will start as early as January 2019, with an eye on putting it into practical use the following year.

Government-run facilities, such as the National Diet Library, the National Archives of Japan and various museums, have their own databases of stored items.

But searching for items in all of the databases is now time-consuming and pain-staking.

Enabling cross-sectional searches would be more convenient and cover more ground.

“When searching through archives in a cross-sectional manner, users can find related data in unexpected fields,” a Cabinet Office official said. “If the number of users increases, people in other fields could help to expand the databases.”

The government’s Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters set up a promotion committee in September 2017 to discuss the database project.

In May this year, 11 organizations created a system to collectively search from parts of their databases.

It has been tested among the organizations, which include the National Diet Library, the National Archives of Japan, the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art, and the Broadcast Programming Center of Japan, which preserves TV and radio programs.

The committee wants universities, private museums and companies around Japan to join the system.

“Compared with European countries and the United States where various governmental and private groups are involved in the database system, Japan has only reached the level of creating a search system,” said Soichi Tokizane, a senior visiting researcher at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School, who is familiar with database systems abroad. “But creating a database system that allows users to do cross-sectional searches would be a big step forward.”