NIME, the National Institute of Multimedia Education, started off life as an inter-university research institute and had many similarities to national iniatitives such as SURF and Norway Opening Universities.
In April 2004, NIME ceased to be an inter-university research institute and became an independent administrative institution. While this organizational change was not without a degree of confusion, NIME was evaluated for the first time in 2005, earning considerable praise for the way it had managed to continue with its original work and at the same time launch some new activities.
Further changes in NIME's remit appear imminent, probably refocussing it towards serving the research and development needs of the Open University of Japan.
Its web site in English is at http://www.nime.ac.jp/en/
NIME, in conjunction with MEXT, has recently published a Report on education using ICT including e-Learning, 2006, which makes fascinating reading on the situation in Japan.