Director’s Remarks

Seiya Kato, M.D., PhD Director Since its foundation in 1939, the mission of the Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (RIT/JATA) has been to contribute to domestic and global tuberculosis control by conducting various studies in broad fields, including basic science to clinical/epidemiological studies, providing technical support for national and local governments, public health centres, and medical facilities, as well as performing activities for international cooperation and collaboration.

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In the fields of clinical medicine, epidemiology, and operational research, we analyse national surveillance data and conduct studies as follows: effective control measures for high-risk groups, molecular epidemiologic research, research in collaboration with medical institutions, and investigation of patient-centred support, among others. These studies are necessary for effective TB control under low-incidence situations.

In the field of basic science in which the ultimate goal is to develop innovative technology, we conduct morphological measurement studies to determine the ultrastructure of Mycobacterium, development and validation of new laboratory examinations, and molecular and genome analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We conduct human genomic analysis on host defence mechanisms of infection, development, and reactivation of the disease, analysis of immune-pathology with clinical and epidemiologic factors, and development of innovative anti- tuberculosis agents.

The outcomes of these studies are published in medical journals, presented in academic meetings, and disclosed on our website. Some are utilised as materials for discussion in meetings by the National Health Council, local governments, and health centres. The information is also distributed at training programmes in RIT, regional training programmes, and community trainings to contribute to progress in medical service and control programmes.

We established collaborations with national governments and research institutes in many countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the USA through international collaborative research and investigations, technical support, and exchanges of lecturers in meetings. The participants in the international training programme, which began in 1963, included more than 2300 individuals from 98 countries/areas and contributed to tuberculosis control programmes in the respective countries/areas and the world. We conducted international cooperation programmes funded by the Ministry of Health Welfare and Labour, Japan International Cooperation agency and Christmas Seal Campaign. RIT is designated as a WHO collaborating centre and functions as a supranational reference laboratory to provide technical support for surveys and studies worldwide.

As a global institute representing Japan, RIT will promote the health and peace of the people in Japan and worldwide by researching and controlling tuberculosis in collaboration with the Japanese government, local governments, public health centres, medical facilities, relevant organisations, and international organisations, particularly the WHO.

Brief History of the Institute

May. 1939 Establishment of JATA by special Decree from Her Imperial Majesty the Empress,with Princess Chichibu as Patroness.
Nov. 1939 Establishment of the Research Institute of Tuberculosis (RIT) in Higashimurayama Tokyo.
Nov. 1943 RIT moved to Kiyose Tokyo.
Nov. 1947 Establishment of the RIT-Attached Sanatorium (now known as Fukujuji Hospital).
Feb. 1948 First Trainig Course for TB specialists was held.
1953 First tuberculosis prevalence survey was conducted.
Sep. 1954 First publication of “Statistics of TB”.
Apr. 1958 Separation of RIT-Attached Sanatorium (now known as Fukujuji Hospital).
Jun. 1963 First International Training Course in Tuberculosis Control for doctors from developing countries was held.
Sep. 1973 Hosting the 22nd World TB Congress in Tokyo.
Aug. 1982 Designation of RIT as WHO Collaborating Centre for Tuberculosis Research and Training.
Apr. 1988 Establishment of Department of International Cooperation.
Apr. 1992 Establishment of International Tuberculosis Information Centre.
Feb. 1995 First International Training Course on AIDS Prevention and Care in Asia was held.
Mar. 1999 Establishment of Department of Programme support.
Apr. 2003 Establishment of Department of Research, and Department of Mycobacterium Reference Centre.
Sep. 2008 Establishment of Department of Epidemiology and Clinical Research , and Department of Mycobacterium Reference and Research.
Apr. 2013 Establishment of Department of Mycobacterium Reference and Research, Department of Pathophysiology and Host Defense, and Department of Centre for International Cooperation and Global TB Information.

Tuberculosis fact sheet

Tuberculosis (TB) used to be the biggest killer in Japan, affecting 590,000 people with 93,000 deaths in 1951. The situation has dramatically changed in the past several decades, with the number of TB cases registered declining to 20,000 people with 2000 deaths in 2013.

Tuberculosis in Japan : Annual Report - 2017

Tuberculosis in Japan Annual Report 2017

Tuberculosis in Japan (Tables) zip (Excel)

Tuberculosis in Japan (Figure) (pptx)

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TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and most often affects the lungs. TB is curable and preventable. TB spreads from person to person through the air. When a patient with pulmonary TB coughs, sneezes, spits, or even talks and sings, TB germs are exhaled into the air. A person is infected with TB by inhaling these TB germs in the air. However, only 5-15% of people infected with TB actually develop TB disease in their lifetime. If a person is also infected with HIV, he or she is much more likely to develop TB disease. When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and leads to the transmission of the bacteria to others. Without adequate treatment, up to two thirds of people affected by TB die. TB mostly affects young adults in their most productive years. However, since almost all the young people in Japan have not yet been infected with TB and most elderly people over the age of 70 have TB germs in their lungs from their youth, over a half of TB patients are over 65 years old. Common symptoms of active pulmonary TB are a cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. However, elderly patients may not have these respiratory symptoms. For this reason, it can be difficult to diagnose TB in the elderly.

Sputum smear microscopy is one of the most important laboratory tests to diagnose TB. Laboratory technicians look at sputum samples under a microscope to see if TB bacteria are present. With such tests, diagnosis can be made within a day, but this test does not always detect cases of less infectious forms of TB. TB germs are also cultured in an incubator for three to eight weeks with various media. Since the late 1990s, liquid media have become more popular for culturing TB germs, with a faster incubation period (at least two to six weeks). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is another important method for detecting TB germs in sputum with a much more rapid turnaround time (at most one day, normally 4-5 hours). Active, drug-sensitive TB disease is treated with standard six- to nine-month courses of four or three antimicrobial drugs. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.

Multidrug-resistant TB Standard anti-TB drugs have been used for decades, and resistance to the medicines is widespread. Disease strains that are resistant to a single anti-TB drug have been documented in every country surveyed. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to, at least, isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful, first-line (or standard) anti-TB drugs. The primary cause of MDR-TB is inappropriate treatment. Inappropriate or incorrect use of anti-TB drugs, or use of poor quality medicines, can all cause drug resistance. Disease caused by resistant bacteria fails to respond to conventional, first-line treatment. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs. However, second-line treatment options are limited, and recommended medicines are not always available. The extensive chemotherapy required (up to two years of treatment) is more costly and can produce severe adverse drug reactions in patients. In some countries, such as China, Russian Federation, and the Republic of the Philippines, 3 to 20% of the TB patients are MDR, while in Japan, less than 1% of the cases are MDR.


News Letter from Kiyose


RIT the Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Japan Anti-tuberculosis Association
WHO Collaborating Centre

Address: 3-1-24 Matsuyama, Kiyose-shi, Tokyo 204-8533 Japan
Phone: +81-42-493-5711
Facsimile: +81-42-492-4600

3-1-24 Matsuyama, Kiyose-shi, Tokyo 204-8533 Japan