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2.Establishment of the National Language Research Institute

Voices calling for the establishment of a National Language Research Institute

The defeat in World War II and the subsequent occupation period were a major turning point. There was a growing awareness that "it is necessary to rationalize the national language to increase efficiency in people's lives and develop the culture," and there was a growing demand for the establishment of an organization for comprehensive scientific research on the national language.

First, a proposal that "the National Language Council should consider the importance of Kokugo Kokuji Mondai and establish a large-scale basic research organization for their fundamental solution" was adopted at the general meeting of the eleventh National Language Council held on September 21, 1946 (Showa 21), and submitted to the Minister of Education.

Then, a "petition for the establishment of a research organization for Kokugo Kokuji Mondai" (*1) was submitted to the first Diet held in August 1947 (Showa 22).This petition was adopted in the Upper House on November 26, then in the Lower House on December 9.

*1 The people who signed and submitted the petition were:

  • Masatsugu Ando (Organizer of the "People's National Language Movement Federation")
  • Tetsuro Furukaki (Managing Director of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Masanori Ito (Director of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association)
  • Yoshishige Abe (Chairman of the National Language Council)
  • Mitsuru Ishii (Chairman of the Japan Publishers Association)
  • Ryuichi Nozawa (Director of the Japan Printing Association)

The National Language Research Institute and Yuzo Yamamoto

A person who deserves special attention here is Yuzo Yamamoto, a writer and a member of the Upper House.

Yamamoto had long had a strong interest in the national language, and during the war he began pushing the idea of a national institute for Japanese language research. In December 1945 (Showa 20), just after the war, he opened the "Mitaka National Language Research Institute" privately at his home in Mitaka City, Tokyo, inviting Naoe Naganuma and Masatsugu Ando to join him. This institute was soon closed because Yamamoto's house was taken over by the occupation army, but in 1947 (Showa 22), Yamamoto ran for a seat in the Upper House with the aim of establishing the National Language Research Institute, and he was elected. He worked towards establishing the Institute as Chairman of the Upper House Cultural Committee when the petition was submitted.

After the Institute was established, he maintained a close relationship with it, serving as member of the Council and offering his home in Mitaka as a branch office.

Yuzo Yamamoto

Yuzo Yamamoto

National language textbooks that Yuzo Yamamoto helped to edit

National language textbooks
that Yuzo Yamamoto helped to edit

Founding of the National Language Research Institute

In response to these request from various quarters, the Cabinet decided to establish the National Language Research Institute the following year (April 2, 1948 (Showa 23)).

The Ministry of Education began preparations immediately after the Cabinet decision, organizing the Founding Committee.(*2) The committee met from August 17 to 19, discussing the nature of the institute, the law establishing it, personnel affairs, etc., and submitted a statement to the Minister of Education.

On November 13 of that year, the Bill for the establishment of the National Language Research Institute was submitted by the Cabinet to the Diet, and it was approved on November 21. A national research organization for the national language had been a matter of concern since the Meiji period, and it became a reality when the law was promulgated and took effect on December 20. (Purpose of the law)

The Institute borrowed part of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery at Meiji Jingu Shrine (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo) and started working immediately. Minoru Nishio, who had been involved in its establishment from early on, took office as the first Director-General. There were five staff members in the General Affairs Department and 30 investigators. It was a small start.

*2 The members of the Founding Committee, listed below, were from various fields.

  • Masatsugu Ando (Chairman of the National Language Council)
  • Masanori Ito (Director of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association)
  • Tokiomi Kaigo (Professor at the University of Tokyo)
  • Kyosuke Kindaichi (Chairman of the Linguistic Society of Japan)
  • Takeshiro Kuraishi (Professor at Kyoto University)
  • Kotoji Satta (Director at the Affiliated Medical School of the University of Tokyo)
  • Tetsuichi Sawanobori (Principal of the Tokyo Metropolitan Fifth High School)
  • Sadaji Takagi (Professor at the University of Tokyo)
  • Kochi Doi (Professor Emeritus at Tohoku University)
  • Zenmaro Toki (Chairman of the Romanization Movement Head Office)
  • Motoki Tokieda (Professor at the University of Tokyo)
  • Kenzo Nakajima (Lecturer at the University of Tokyo)
  • Minoru Nishio (Professor at Tokyo Woman's Christian University)
  • Shiro Hattori (Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo)
  • Tetsuro Furukaki (Managing Director of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Tadanori Matsusaka (Director of the Kanamojikai)
  • Kunio Yanagita (Chairman of the Folklore Society)
  • Kyosuke Yamazaki (Vice Chairman of the Educational Reform Committee)

Changes in Location

  • Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery at Meiji Shrine

    Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery at Meiji Shrine (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)
    December 20, 1948 (Showa 23) to September 30 1954 (Showa 29)

  • Yuzo Yamamoto lent his house

    Yuzo Yamamoto lent his house (as a branch office). (Mitaka City, Tokyo)
    December 26, 1951 (Showa 26) to March 31, 1953 (Showa 28)

  • Yotsuya Sixth Elementary School

    The building of the Yotsuya Sixth Elementary School was borrowed (as a branch office). (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)
    May 1, 1953 (Showa 28) to September 30, 1954 (Showa 29)

  • Hitotsubashi building

    Hitotsubashi building (Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo)
    October 1, 1954 (Showa 29) to March 31, 1962 (Showa 37)

  • Nishigaoka building

    Nishigaoka building (Kita Ward, Tokyo)
    April 1, 1962 (Showa 37) to January 31, 2005 (Heisei 17)

  • Nishigaoka building
  • Tachikawa building

    Tachikawa building (Tachikawa City, Tokyo)
    Since February 1, 2005 (Heisei 17)

  • Tachikawa building

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