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Japanese Newspaper Databases

The best way to find news from Japan is as below. Let us know if there is a better way.

1. Go to the Wall Street Journal Interactive's homepage for a free database search for over 6,000 publications, including the Asahi Evening News, the Daily Yomiuri, the Mainichi Daily News and other publications/newswires from Japan. This is part of the limited access service to Dow Jones Interactive's databases, and you have to have chosen free registration, instead of regular paid subscription. (To do free registration, try any recent article search in "The Wall Street Journal" or "The Top Business Publications" (situated on the right top of the homepage), and you will find an "register or login" option to click.)  A keyword search brings you a list of articles with first 3 lines of each article. The Asahi Evening News has articles since 12/02/96, the Daily Yomiuri since 2/20/95, the Mainichi Daily News since 6/11/97. If you click an interesting article on the search output, you can read its full text. Then you pay $2.95 per article.

2. After searching Dow Jones Interactive, go to the Japan Times site. They have articles since January 1996, piled up chronologically with a calendar-like selection system. You can read full texts for free. They don't offer a keyword search. But with information you got from Dow Jones Interactive, you can figure out what news you expect on which date.

3. For those of you who read Japanese, the following Japanese newspaper sites offer free database search, three of which with free full text access. Saga Shimbun, one of the three full text databas newspapers, is particularly interesting because it has local as well as national news provided by Kyodo Newswire. Okinawa Times also provides substantial national news coverage. (Newspapers in Okinawa seem to be active in reporting mainland news.)  The other full text database is Shimotsuke Shimbun, based in Tochigi Prefecture. Another interesting site is Japan Press Index, operated by Kyodo News. The site provides aggregated search for 43 regional and local newspapers. The special beauty of it is you can read full text articles from newspapers which do not provide archive databases on their own sites.

List of Free Newspaper Databases in Japan
(As of 4/99)

National Papers and News:

Mainichi Shimbun
  Nonsearchable articles since 8/95
Japan Times
  Nonsearchable articles since 1/96
Kyodo News
  Searchable database since 12/98
Japan Press Index
  Aggregated Searchable database for 43 regional and local newspapers
  + FULL TEXT access to some articles

Regional Papers:

Hokkaido Shimbun
  Searchable database since 12/28/98
Kahoku Shimpo
  Nonsearchable articles since 1/99
Nishi-Nihon Shimbun
  Searchable database since 12/28/98

Local Papers (partial list):

Kushiro Shimbun
  Nonsearchable articles since 1/96
Iwate Nippo
  Nonsearchable articles since 8/97
Shimotsuke Shimbun
  Searchable database since 9/95 + free FULL TEXT access
Chiba Nippo
  Nonsearchable articles since 6/97
Niigata Nippo
  Nonsearchable sumarries since 8/96
Yamaguchi Shimbun
  Searchable articles since 1/98
Shikoku Shimbun
  Nonsearchable articles since 1/97
Saga Shimbun
  Searchable database since 1/1994 + FULL TEXT access
Okinawa Times
  Searchable database since 1/97 + FULL TEXT access

4. Most of the American newspapers provide free access to their archive databases. Many of them provide full text access. Bigger newspapers and West Coast newspapers have some coverage on Japan and Asia.

List of Major American Newspaper Databases
(As of March 1999)
                starts from  Search  Full Text
Baltimore Sun            90   free   free up to 2 weeks ago
Boston Globe             80   free   Day:$2.95/article, Night:$1.50/a
Chicago Tribune          85   free   $1.95/article
Detroit News             97   free   free
Houston Chronicle        85   free   free
Los Angeles Times        90   free   $1.50/article
Miami Herald             82   free   $1.95/article
Minneapolis Star Tribune 90   free   free up to 3 weeks ago
New York Times  (past 1 year) free   $2.50/article
Philadelphia Inquirer    78   free   $1.95/article
San Francisco Chronicle  95   free   free
San Francisco Examiner   95   free   free
Seattle Times            96   free   free
St. Louis Post-Dispatch  88   free   free
USA Today                87   free   $1.00/article
Wall Street Journal      84   free   free
Washington Post          86   free   free up to 2 weeks ago

I am amazed at what extensive information a publishing company can provide. With the article database from more than 6,000 publications, the Dow Johns Interactive easily surpasses some of the smaller commercial databases provided by/at American public libraries (No commercial database access at Japanese public libraries). Dow Johns does not do that for altruism. It is their sales promotion. If more people come to use their free search, more people will pay for downloading full texts.

Here I see a challenge to the public library. In the print media age, we needed to build many buildings (libraries) all around the nation with tons of books distributed to every remote corner on the land. That costly project was only done by the public sector. But with a ubiquitous global network of the Internet, publishing companies themselves can easily distribute information around the nation and world. Without total reliance on the government sector, they may be able to provide a minimum level of universal information service, which was done only by pulbic libraries in the print media era. Corporations may do that as their corporate citizen services or just as sales promotion tactics.

Not just corporations. Citizens, nonprofits, government agencies all can provide information directly to the global market place on the Internet. The Internet itself could be becoming a huge global library. What is the role of building-based libraries?