Few Japanese local government authorities addressed the preservation and use of historically important records until the 1960s. Progress in public records management was made between the 1970s and the 1990s for three main reasons. First, public opinion in favour of establishing public archives developed as a result of a growing movement to preserve historical materials. Second, local government was in advance of national government in steering public policy toward information disclosure in the 1980s. Third, an act to promote establishment of public archives was enacted in 1987. Nevertheless, preservation and use of historically important records is still underdeveloped. Development of local public archives is hindered by poor understanding on the part of local government staff about preservation and use of such records, ambiguous appraisal criteria, and financial and physical limitations for preservation. Given that the Public Records and Archives Management Act asks local governments to make every effort to achieve better public records management, a group of experts from the administration, private sectors, and academia published a guideline on formulating regulations for public records management in 2011. At present, some authorities are in the process of introducing a regulatory framework for public records management, while others seek to establish local public archives in conjunction with other institutions.