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The Japanese Patent Office (JPO) offers the Industrial Property Digital Library (IPDL) as a service to those wishing to search the Japanese patent art.
From the English-language homepage, users can find links to English search interfaces for Japanese patents and applications, as well as a number of tools related to F-term and File Index (FI) classifications used by Japanese Examiners to classify their patent art.
Japanese patent file histories and legal status information are also available from the IPDL. As of 2010, file histories could only be accessed via the Japanese-language interface. The European Patent Office website offers a tutorial on using this interface, available here.