For a long time regarded as a priority, and used as a tool for the economic development of the country, higher education in Japan rests on Confucianist and Shintoist values. It is provided by numerous universities which have unequal resources. Some are national, some are public, some are financed by regional collectives and others are private. They are all competing to enroll the best students. 37 % of Japanese students enter institutes of higher education. Programme uniformity (resulting from excessive centralization) conflicts with the inequal resources held by each university : this becomes the weak point of Japanese higher education. Research is characterized on the one hand by the founding and support of mainly private organizations, and on the other by the collaboration of universities and companies. Libraries and documentation centres present the same characteristics as research. It is well financed, with a complex and contrasting structure, stigmatized by a slow networking mentality and materialized by the creation of the National Center for Science Information System. Other characteristics include : the reluctance to regard librarian as a profession and the slow introduction of assessment methods.