Although no Japanese participated in the first Cochrane Colloquium in 1993, news was brought to Japan mainly through Dr Andrew Herxheimer, then a consultant to the UK Cochrane Centre and Chairman of the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) . Some Japanese clinical pharmacologists who are involved in TIP (The Informed Prescriber) , the Japanese counterpart of ISDB, and clinical epidemiologists, showed great interest in it.
One month after saveral Japanese participated in the second Cochrane Colloquium in Hamilton in 1994, the first meeting was held in Tokyo with 15 people, including those who attended the Hamilton meeting. They established JANCOC (JApanese informal Network for Cochrane Collaboration) .
The reason to start as an 'informal network' is that resources are still limited in Japan to establish a formal centre that could meet the huge potential of helth information historically produced in Japan, mostly in Japanese. In the initial stages for the development of the Collaboration in Japan, more flexible action is required: particularly in an Asian country which has a different socio-cultural-political structure from the West (including a unique medical culture and the existence of a strong private sector) .
JANCOC's activities have been focused on selling the concept and activities of the Collaboration to Japanese.Several introductory papers were published in general medical journals and TIP.
Demonstrations of the Cochrane databases have been made in various medical conferences. A special discussion group was established in FDRUG (Forum for Drugs) on NIFTY-Serve (the Japanese counterpart of CompuServe) in October 1995, and a JANCOC Home Page was also opened in December (see below) .
An epoch-making event for JANCOC was to conduct the first workshop on systematic reviews in Tokyo on 3 December 1995. This was held in conjunction with the 10 year anniversary of TIP, and with the lectureship of Dr Herxheimer and Dr Caroline Crowther, Deputy Director of the Australasian Cochrane Centre.
Twenty-eight people participated, including physicians, pharmacists, biostatisticians, consumers, and others. The workshop was conducted in English, but it was a good model for Japanese for future plans of conducting similar workshops in Japanese. The Japanese consumer group that attended joined the Collaboration's Consumer Network after the workshop.
One of the problems for Japanese is language. Though some have a good command of English in reading, writing, and speaking, more materials on the Collaboration have to be translated into Japanese for its further development in Japan. A translation project of Systematic Reviews edited by Chalmers and Altman has been started recently.
For Japanese, Collaboration movements sound too fast. Nevertheless, JANCOC will take steady steps to explore a suitable style of development of the Collaboration in Japan, based on Japanese genes.
JANCOC's Home Page can be found at:
JANCOC has printed 500 copies of "Cochrane Collaboration: materials for guidance" in Japanese.