Japanese Instructions, Communications, and Notices
This webpage explains Japanese Instructions "Kunrei (訓令)," Communications "Tsutatsu (通達)," and Notices "Tsuchi (通知)," and introduces how to search them on the Internet. Instructions, Communications, and Notices are not always published, unlike laws; accordingly, they are not easily found in many cases. Furthermore, there are only a limited number of English translations of Instructions, Communications, and Notices available in Japan, and it is necessary to understand how they are recorded in Japanese when searching them.
The following webpage explains how to search Japanese Instructions, Communications, and Notices in further detail:
・Japanese Instructions, Communications, and Notices (National Diet Library)（Japanese）
1. Overview of Instructions, Communications, and Notices
There is no strict definition for Instructions, Communications, and Notices, and the classifications for these terms are not always clear, but they are generally described as follows.
Instructions: Orders issued by higher administrative agencies to direct the exercise of authority by lower administrative agencies.
Communications: A type of form in which Ministers, Committees and Agency Chiefs give orders to or notify their organizations and staff in charge of the affairs under their jurisdiction. Many of the Communications are related to the interpretation, operation and administrative enforcement policies of laws and regulations.
Notices: The act of notifying specified or unspecified persons of specific matters.
2. Identifying Instructions, Communications, and Notices
Instructions, Communications, and Notices can be identified by their (1) document symbol/number, (2) date, (3) title, (4) issuer, and (5) receiver. Of these, the most important ones are (1) to (3).
(1) Document Symbol and Number
Each Instruction has an original instruction number, similar to laws and regulations.
|Heisei XX||Cabinet Office||Instruction||No. XX|
Document symbols and numbers are assigned to Communications and Notices. A document symbol indicates the name of the department/division of the administrative agency, and the method of description differs depending on each agency.
(Second Division, Civil Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Justice)
(Pharmaceutical Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Health)
|(Second Division, Family Bureau, Supreme Court General Secretariat, Supreme Court of Japan)|
The numbers may be cited by either Chinese numerals or Arabic numerals; therefore, users need to try both numerals when searching.
Dates mean date of issuance. Dates are important items for identifying Instructions, Communications, and Notices, but those may be revised from time to time in the same manner as laws and regulations. Therefore, it is important for users to specify which dates they are searching for Instructions, Communications, and Notices.
There is no fixed format for the title. Words such as "About XX", "Handling Procedures for XX", "Operational Instructions for XX", and "Guidelines for XX" are often included in the title, and words such as "communications" and "notices" are not necessarily included. For researching old communications, note that communications were once referred to as "Tsucho (通牒)."
3. How to search Instructions, Communications, and Notices
3-1. Searching Instructions
"Kanpo (官報)" (Official Gazettes）
If an Instruction's issue date is identified, users should check the official gazette of the same date. Official gazettes are issued daily to release various reports of government organs, including the promulgation of laws and regulations. As a general rule, official gazettes are published daily except for administrative holidays. Communications and Notices are not included in official gazettes, but some Instructions are listed.
For the details, please see Official Gazettes.
"Horeizensho (法令全書)" (Statute Books)
Users also can browse Instructions issued in a specific year or month (posted in official gazettes) in Horeizensho, which are monthly collections of national laws and regulations promulgated through official gazettes compiled by type and issuer. Although Horeizensho was first published in Meiji 18（1885）, laws and regulations promulgated after October Keio 3 (1867) (which was before the first issue of official gazette) were included in the issue. Horeizensho of the Meiji era are available in the National Diet Library Digital Collections.
If the date of issue of Instructions is unknown, please see 3-2. Searching Communications and Notices.
3-2. Searching Communications and Notices
To search Communications and Notices, as well as Instructions which are not listed in official gazettes, the following approaches can be used.
"Laws and regulations, notifications, communications, etc."e-Gov Japan: the official web portal of Government of Japan
(Administrative Management Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)（Japanese）
This is a collection of web links to laws and regulations, Notifications, and Communications disclosed on each administrative agency's websites and databases. Please search the databases of the ministries and agencies using a set of keywords. The range of Communications and Notices open to the public differs depending on each administrative agency.
The National Diet Library Digital Collections
This database allows users to search and browse digital materials collected and stored in the National Diet Library. This is useful when searching past Instructions, Communications, and Notices. Please enter keywords such as the title and document/symbol number of Instructions, Communications, and Notices in the search window. Users can identify the name of Instructions, Communications, or Notices they are searching for from the table of contents or description of items stored in the National Diet Library Digital Collections.
National Archives of Japan Digital Archive
This database allows users to search the catalog information of specific historical documents, etc. held by the National Archives of Japan, and browse the digital images of selected materials. For past Instructions, Communications, and Notices, the relevant approval documents may be contained.
There are also useful tools for finding statute books including communications and notices.
"Table of Contents Database" National Diet Library Research Navi (Japanese)
A database containing the table of contents of statute books including communications and notices. However, it does not include the table of contents of all statute books. Please search by keywords such as the title and document/symbol number of Instructions, Communications, and Notices. Books that contain that keyword in the table of contents will be displayed in the search results. Please click the book title and go to "[目次] 目次検索システム," and then "目次をみる." Then you can browse the table of contents of the book and confirm the title of the law and relevant page.
National Diet Library Online
On the National Diet Library Online, the National Diet Library's collection search and application system, users can find materials which contain Instructions, Communications, and Notices by entering their title and legal category in the title field (e.g. income tax). Some Instructions, Communications, and Notices may be contained in periodicals, so please enter the title, etc. in the keyword field of Articles. However, please be aware that the full text is not available, as some items include only parts of the Instructions, Communications, and Notices.
3-3. Searching English Translations of Instructions, Communications, and Notices
As mentioned above, there are few, if any, English translations of Instructions, Communications, and Notices, and they are often unofficial. To find the English translations of Instructions, Communications, and Notices, please enter "Instruction" for 訓令 and "Circular Notice" for 通達 and "Notice" for 通知 in the search window of the ministry's website. Note that unlike the examples below, the document symbol/number may not be written in Roman letters.
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Japanese Law Translation Database System（Ministry of Justice）
Users can search by keyword, title, law number, field, administrative agency, etc. This system allows users to search for both Japanese and English legal information at the same time, so users can enter keywords in either Japanese or English.