Japan is aiming to certify about 1,000 archivists by March 2026 in a new system amid efforts to improve the management of official records, government sources said Saturday, following criticism over government handling of public documents in various scandals involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The government has decided to launch the new system in 2021, five years before the opening of a new national archives, according to the sources.

Japan, which now has only a relatively small number of privately qualified archivists, has been known to lag behind many developed countries in preserving official documents.

The government plans to roll out the publicly certified archivists, who are expected to be primarily based at the National Archives of Japan, to ministries and local municipal offices as well, the sources said.

An official at the archives said it is important to "adequately store records and pass them on to future generations."

The system will be overseen by a certification committee to be installed within the archives in Tokyo. To qualify for the certification, applicants must have had three or more years of experience in the field, specialist knowledge and skills, and postgraduate-level research abilities, according to the sources.

Applications, which include an essay, will begin from next fall, with the first generation of government-qualified archivists expected to start serving from January 2021, they said.

To expand the range of activities, the government plans to also introduce an "associate archivist" qualification with more relaxed criteria, aimed at people who do not have work experience in the field.

The government is seeking to achieve its current goal of training 400 archivists and 600 associate archivists by fiscal 2026, when the new national archives will open.

Japan is also considering creating an "advanced archivist" qualification for those who have acquired the highest specialist knowledge and have many years of experience.