The Statute of the Institute provides: “The Institute has for its object to do research in overseas affairs and to collect materials relevant to such research, with special emphasis on modern Chinese studies.” (Article 2). It goes on to provide: “In order to carry out the objectives, the Institute undertakes to perform these works: (1) to do research, collect relevant materials and publish its results; (2) to organise lecture and study meetings; (3) to publish its Journal and other books; (4) to exchange books and other publications with other domestic and overseas research institutes; (5) to exchange researchers with other domestic and overseas research institutes; and (6) to perform any other works necessary to attain the objectives of the Institute.” (Article 3)
Based on these objectives, the Institute has performed its research activities mainly in modern Chinese studies, beginning with the first-generation researchers who came back from Toa Dobun Shoin in Shanghai with their Chinese books and materials and expertise in Chinese affairs. Such research activities in respect of mainland Chinese affairs were carried out when the Japanese government had no official diplomatic relations with the government of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing that had been established in October, 1949.
Starting as a research institute for overseas affairs in 1948, the Institute has specialized in studies of international relations, most importantly in modern Chinese studies. But as recent international events and phenomena show, there is a growing general awareness of the importance of Asian affairs, North East and South East Asian affairs among them. Today in response to an increase in the number of staff members of the Institute, as well as changes in the domestic and overseas situations, the Institute’s range of research activities has expanded to the entire world, with Research Units covering the following geographical areas:
(1) North-East Asia (Japan, the Koreas, China and Taiwan);
(2) South-East Asia;
(3) South Asia;
(4) Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Islands of the South Pacific);
(5) The Middle East and Africa;
(6) The European Union;
(7) The Americas; and
Based on its original objectives, the Institute is now intending to pursue its research activities in two tiers: area studies and theories of international relations. Research Unit (8) above is reserved for the latter and includes studies of international organizations and cross-regional studies.