The discipline of Primatology started in Japan on December 3rd, 1948. The late Kinji Imanishi (1902-1992) and his two students, from Kyoto University, went to Koshima Island to observe wild Japanese monkeys. By studying the social behavior of this monkey they aimed to understand the evolutionary origins of human society.
Most people may not realise that there are no species of monkeys or apes native to North America or Europe. Among G7 member state countries, Japan is unique. Japan has an indigenous species of monkey, called the Japanese or snow monkey, benefiting the study of nonhuman primates here.
Primatology is the scientific study of all primates, including humans. In order to understand ourselves as humans, it is essential to study our closest living relatives; people are keen to discover more about apes, monkeys, and prosimians such as lemurs.Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Kyoto University scholars, primatology in Japan began uniquely through fieldwork on the native wild monkeys.
Japanese primatologists worked together to help create the Japan Monkey Centre (JMC). It was founded on October 17th, 1956. The JMC aims to promote research, education, conservation, welfare, and communication to the public regarding nonhuman primates. JMC became a 'Public Interest Incorporated Foundation' from April 2014.
The JMC is also a registered museum, since 1957 producing the journal, “Primates”, now the oldest Primatology journal written in English. Primates is a leading journal in the discipline, published by Springer in collaboration with Primate Society Japan (PSJ). The JMC also runs a unique zoo, specializing in nonhuman primates, with over 1,000 individuals representing 67 (as of 2014) different species.
This is the official website of JMC, with information about ongoing projects and news updates, in English. Join us for a window onto the world of nonhuman primates. Through observing nonhuman primates we can develop a better appreciation of our place within nature, a keener desire to understand the evolutionary origins of human society and behavior.
October 15th, 2014 in Kyoto
General Director, Japan Monkey Centre
Professor, Kyoto University
President, International Primatological Society