In order to maintain and develop the research resources of Japanese history accumulated over 150 years by the Historiographical Institute for another 100 years, we are constructing the historical information research infrastructure which consists of construction of historical data repository for long-term use, construction of data-driven search system, and drastically strengthen international transmission capabilities. We aim to expand the information research bases of Japanese history that are outstanding internationally, and collaborate with informatics to further revitalize the humanities study and strengthen the foundation that supports academic diversity. In addition, through our research activities, we work on training young researchers into highly specialists and returning academic results to society by publishing historical data openly.
The SHIPS database at the Historiographical Institute is a digital archive with about 40 different databases (total of 5.6 million data) and about 20 million images of historical materials (note: as of March 2020), including a database of historical catalogs, full text of historical materials, images of historical materials, and tools such as kuzushiji deciphering scripts and historical picture books, for historical materials and historical information on Japanese history from ancient times to the Meiji Restoration. It is one of the leading Japanese history databases in the humanities, and is developing informatics research that integrates the humanities and sciences.
Construction of historical data repository for long-term use
We will inherit and utilize the research resources that the Historiographical Institute has accumulated over the years, and further promote the use of Japanese historical materials as research resources. Specifically, we will create a package that includes a catalog of historical documents, images of historical documents, historical information, location, access rights, and IDs for each document. In addition, we will link the data derived from these materials, such as photographic images for catalogs, microscopic images, and kuzushiji images. In addition, a general-purpose historical data repository can be realized based on the international standards such as OAIS (Open Archival Information System). In this way, in addition to the historical data itself, the data that indicates what the historical data is will be preserved for the future. We believe that this will allow the historical data to function permanently.
Construction of data-driven search system
We will develop and implement an environment to implement a method of presenting related data one after another from certain data related to historical documents, such as a more flexible search that is not limited by the user interface. Specifically, by developing a Web API (Application Programming Interface), we aim to realize a data-driven search system by introducing data search and presentation methods that can be used and read not only by humans but also by machines.
At the Historiographical Institute, we have introduced the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), an international standard for historical images, to promote the use of open data for historical images. In this way, we are leading the way in promoting open science, which enables flexible utilization of the data retrieved and presented. In order to utilize the historical data held by the Historiographical Institute, we are studying and implementing methodologies to realize support functions by AI and machine learning, such as 1) construction of a kuzuji learning data set for character recognition by AI, 2) automatic generation of structured text by character recognition AI, and 3) thesaurization and ontology of place names and personal names. This will enable us to respond to the new era, and we hope to open up a new era of humanities informatics research.
Strengthen international transmission capabilities
The total number of accesses to the Historiography website and various databases reaches nearly 25 million per year (fiscal year 2019). As there are many accesses from overseas, it is important to disseminate information on Japanese studies overseas. The Historiographical Institute is working on the translation of the database on the history of the Bakumatsu Restoration into English and on English-translated glossary research, and in cooperation with these research projects, we will further strengthen our international communication capabilities by building an English website. By strengthening our ability to disseminate information to the world, we will promote not only Japanese history but also the model of data infrastructure in the humanities internationally.
This project will promote lifelong learning opportunities for people around the world through the international dissemination of information on the historical materials (cultural heritage) of Japanese history. Moreover, we will encourage and promote the development of a sustainable and resilient infrastructure and global partnerships in the field of culture.
This project, with the International Center for the Digitization of Premodern Japanese Sources at its core, will be carried out in collaboration with other projects of JSPS, such as the Program for Constructing Data Infrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences (the Compilation of Historiographical Institute and the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology).