The National Laboratory for High Energy Physics (KEK) was established on April 1, 1971, as a national center of high energy physics open to users from universities and other institutions. KEK is the first of thirteen so called "Inter-University Research Institutes", which are a new type of institutes operated under MONBUSHO (Ministry of Education, Science and Culture).
KEK is located at the northern boundary of Tsukuba Science City, in which about 40 research laboratories and two universities have been established, and occupies the site approximately 1 km x 2 km. KEK was originally established for the purpose of promoting experimental studies on elementary particles, and a 12 GeV proton synchrotron was constructed as the first major facility. Since its commissioning in 1976, the proton synchrotron played an important role to boost experimental activities in Japan and thus laid the foundation of the next big step in high energy physics program of KEK, i.e., a 30 GeV electron-positron colliding-beam accelerator called TRISTAN. The TRISTAN project was approved by the Government in 1981 and the accelerator complex was completed in 1986. The TRISTAN electron-positron collider is open to the international community of high energy physicists, for instance, the AMY collaboration has international participation by US, China, Korea and Philippine physicists.
KEK is also a key laboratory for many cooperative programs between university groups in Japan and foreign institutions. Most of them are being executed under formal arrangements or memorandum between Governments or institutions. Two major ones are the Japan-US Cooperation Program in high-energy physics and the Japan-UK Collaboration Program in neutron diffraction experiments. KEK is responsible for funding and coordination of these programs. The total number of the KEK staff members is now 627, consisting of 324 scientific researchers, 149 technical engineers and 154 administrative staff. In addition, there are 106 foreign long-term visiting scientists.