The Japan Foundation (国際交流基金 Kokusai Kōryū Kikin) was established in 1972 by an Act of the Japanese Diet as a special legal entity to undertake international dissemination of Japanese culture, and became an independent administrative institution under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry of Japan on 1 October 2003 under the "Independent Administrative Institution Japan Foundation Law".
The Japan Foundation aims towards comprehensive and effective development of its international cultural exchange programs in the following categories:
- Promotion of (Japanese) arts and cultural exchange
- Promotion of (overseas) Japanese-language education (the JLPT exam)
- Promotion of (overseas) Japanese studies and intellectual exchange – Japan Foundation Information Centers collect and provide information about international exchange and international cultural exchange standard bearers.
The Japan Foundation is headquartered in Shinjuku, Tokyo and has a subsidiary office in Kyoto. There are also two domestic Japanese-Language Institutes in Saitama and Tajiri, Osaka.
Internationally, the Japan Foundation maintains 22 overseas branches in 21 countries.