In June, 2009, RICAS was approved as a Joint Usage / Research Center by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In 2010, RICAS initiated its operation as a Joint Usage / Research Center with an intention to be more open than earlier to the Asian research community across Japan. The purpose of the establishment of RICAS is to "conduct archival research in the fields of Eastern literature, art, and society and information, assemble the research results as research information, and release it within and outside the University of Tokyo." With this purpose in mind, RICAS has been advancing projects in the following three areas: 1) archival research on Asia based on an integration of arts and social sciences, 2) development of a system for sharing research materials on Asian studies, and 3) research utilizing resources (e.g., literature, artwork, and various databases from regions across Asia) housed by both RICAS and the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia. The goals of these endeavors are to maintain and grant access to the abundant materials and research results located at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia to users both within and outside the University of Tokyo and to institutionalize and further expand the role of RICAS, which has been in effect serving as a shared-use hub of Asian research both within Japan and abroad.
For attaining these goals, RICAS conducts joint research under a newly established system which is open to research communities both within and outside Japan. Joint research is planned in such a way that it extends over the above-mentioned three fields, and research proposals are accepted on an open application basis and reviewed by a steering committee consisting of committee members from both the University of Tokyo and other institutions. As for joint usage, literature and databases have been made widely available for use to researchers and students both within Japan and abroad in the past. In the meantime, the methods for granting access to literature, databases, and other research resources have been adjusted to enhance user-friendliness. Furthermore, higher-quality Asian studies databases have been developed. With these achievements, RICAS strives to realize joint usage which allows the development of new joint research, addressing the needs of the research community and society. RICAS is committed to further improve the extent and quality of the Asian research resources which have been collected by the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia since 1941, one of the finest collections in the world. With the use of these research resources, RICAS is also committed to conduct research in a manner open not only to the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, but also to Asian studies researchers both inside and outside Japan.
Thus far, because of language barriers, academic knowledge and research findings from Asian studies have been confined to academic experts within each region. Therefore, only a limited number of experts have been able to conduct comparative and multidisciplinary studies by consolidating academic knowledge and research findings. With the opportunity provided by RICAS becoming a Joint Usage / Research Center, RICAS aspires to develop a system for sharing academic knowledge and research findings, through joint work with Asian studies researchers both within and outside Japan. Specifically, the system would allow not only researchers and students specializing in various regions, eras, and fields but also the general citizen and school students to utilize the academic knowledge and research findings at their own levels. At the same time, RICAS aims to contribute significantly to rich academic exchange and mutual understanding among Asian nations. Through these efforts, RICAS is also committed to play a role as a Joint Research Center to structuralize the academic knowledge and research findings on Asia in a manner that will break through the limit imposed by finely-subdivided specialties and to work together with society using the results achieved from the structuralized academic knowledge and research findings on Asia. The quality and size of the RICAS book and art-related resources collections, which have attracted a large number of users not only from within Japan but also from abroad, are internationally recognized as among the finest in the field of Asian studies. RICAS database resources, including publicly released images of the full text of highly valuable antiquarian books, have been used heavily by researchers and students across Japan and in other Asian nations, and there has been a growing call for the expansion of the RICAS database resources. Through the reorganization of RICAS as a Joint Usage / Research Center, RICAS will develop from a facility which merely houses resources and materials and awaits visitors into a center for the online usage of a broad spectrum of knowledge and information. RICAS will also work together with the research community across Japan and abroad in an open manner.