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Home > Information > About the Organization > A Guide to the Statistics Bureau, the Director-General for Policy Planning (Statistical Standards) and the Statistical Research and Training Institute >Chapter II

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Chapter II Organization and Functions of the Statistics Bureau

Mission and Guidelines as Central Organization of Official Statistics

Our Mission: What are we committed to?

   We play a central role in the official statistical system of Japan for the production, compilation and dissemination of official statistics which are fundamental to monitor the socio-economic conditions of our country.

   We systematically develop and disseminate relevant and reliable statistics which meet the needs arising from the socio-economic changes, and provide them in a timely and proper manner. We aim to support the planning, formulation and evaluation of governmental policies, and assist in rational decision-making by individuals and businesses. Moreover, we strive to contribute towards the improvement of people's lives, and the development of society and economy.

Our Guiding Principles: To achieve our mission

   We listen to requests and comments of a wide range of people including users of statistics, respondents to surveys and learners of statistics, and endeavor continuously for better production / dissemination of statistics; bear in mind the following 5 guiding principles:

Searching useful, objective and accurate statistics for society. Providing available and value added statistical information. Paying due attention to the burden on respondents and protecting respondents’confidentiality. Associating and cooperating with local governments. Building up a high level of expertise and contributing to the development of statistical surveys in Japan and abroad.

1. Organization and Functions of the Statistics Bureau

   The responsibilities of the Bureau are stipulated in the Law to Establish the MIC and the Cabinet Order on the Organization of the MIC. Under Article 13 of the Cabinet Order, the responsibilities of the Bureau are defined as follows:

(a) To execute and tabulate the Population Census, other fundamental censuses and statistical surveys, and collect statistical reports for producing fundamental statistics, as well as statistical surveys entrusted by other national administrative organizations and local governments,

(b) To conduct research on statistical methods,

(c) To compile secondary statistics (statistics compiled from other statistical data),

(d) To collect and provide the necessary information for producing and using statistics,

(e) To develop and manage the information system for statistics, and

(f) To coordinate statistical activities within the MIC.

   The Bureau comprises the General Affairs Division, the Statistical Information Systems Division, and the Statistical Survey Department, which consists of five divisions.

Organization of the Statistics Bureau

   The responsibilities of each division in the Bureau are stipulated in Articles 111, 112, and 116 to 119 of the Cabinet Order on the Organization of the MIC as follows:

2. General Affairs Division

   The General Affairs Division is charged with the overall coordination of the Bureau’s work, and matters relating to the organization and the administration of the National Statistics Center. More precisely,this Division controls personnel matters, document clearance, international cooperation, liaison among ministries, training and welfare of staff, budgets and accounts, and building maintenance.

   The Director for Quality Management is responsible for maintaining and improving statistical quality of surveys and censuses conducted by the Bureau.

3. Statistical Information Systems Division

   The Statistical Information Systems Division is in charge of the strategic planning and management of IT policies for collecting, processing, and disseminating statistics. The Division is also in charge of developing and managing statistical information systems, including the website of the Bureau, and the Statistical Research and Training Institute. This Division is also in charge of promoting the optimization of operations and systems for statistical work in the Japanese government. The Statistical Information Planning Office of this Division is responsible for familiarization of statistical literacy and promotion of various strategic initiatives for dissemination of statistical information.

   The Statistical Library collects and provides statistical materials, and conducts tasks such as statistics consultation.

4. Statistical Survey Department

   The Survey Planning Division coordinates the activities of the Statistical Survey Department. It is also responsible for executing and tabulating statistical surveys entrusted by other national administrative organizations and local governments. Furthermore, it is responsible for technological and methodological research and studies on statistics, compiling derived statistics such as Social Indicators, as well as the overall coordination of statistical surveys within the MIC. The Geographic Information Office belongs to this Division, and is charged with preparing and using geographic information, as well as being responsible for grid-square statistics and the Census Mapping System (CMS). The Director for Information Processing is responsible for planning and researching the information processing systems used for tabulation. The Director for Statistical Classification and Commodity Specification is responsible for establishing standards for applying statistical classifications, and research on commodity specifications.

   The Population Census Division is in charge of executing and tabulating the Population Census, and the Housing and Land Survey. It also compiles current population estimates and internal migration statistics. The Labour Force Statistics Office in this Division is responsible for statistical surveys on employment and unemployment such as the Labour Force Survey and the Employment Status Survey, and the Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities.

   The Economic Statistics Division is in charge of executing and tabulating statistical surveys pertaining to establishments and enterprises. The surveys conducted by this Division are the Economic Census for Business Activity, the Survey of Research and Development, the Monthly Survey on Service Industries, and the Survey on Service Industries [1989-2004].

   The Economic Structure Statistics Division is in charge of executing and tabulating statistical surveys concerning establishments and enterprises. The surveys conducted by this Division are the Establishment and Enterprise Census [1947-2006], the Economic Census for Business Frame and the Unincorporated Enterprises Survey.

   The Consumer Statistics Division is in charge of executing and tabulating statistical surveys on consumers and prices. The Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure and the Survey of Household Economy are under the jurisdiction of this Division. The Price Statistics Office of this Division is responsible for the Retail Price Survey, the National Survey of Prices [1967-2007], and the Consumer Price Index.

5. Field organizations and collecting data

   Although the Bureau conducts various censuses and statistical surveys, it has no field organization of its own. Instead, its field activities are conducted through the statistical organizations of local governments.

   The statistical organizations of the prefectural and municipal governments play an important role in supporting Japan’s statistical system. They are solely responsible for collecting data for central government censuses and other large-scale surveys such as the Population Census, the Census of Manufactures, and the Establishment and Enterprise Census [1947-2006]. Furthermore, at their own discretion, they conduct independent surveys according to their needs, develop local statistics, and improve the use of statistics within local administrations.

   At the prefectural level, to fulfill its data collection responsibilities for the central government censuses and statistical surveys, each prefectural government has a statistical division staffed with statistical personnel. These statistical personnel in all prefectural governments numbered 1,930 in fiscal 2013, and were funded by the MIC.

   By contrast, few municipalities have a statistical division. The personnel engaged in statistical work numbered 8,068 as of April 2013, but in many cases they have other responsibilities besides statistics. The expenses for municipal personnel engaged in statistical work are covered by the Local Grant Tax System of the central government.

   Generally, there are representative methods of collecting data: mail, enumerators and response via the Internet. In Japan, many censuses and statistical surveys employ enumerators, taking into consideration factors such as response rate and accuracy. The enumerators are public servants, who are appointed on a temporary basis for the respective censuses and statistical surveys.

Production of statistics

   Censuses and statistical surveys are planned and conducted, and the results are compiled, released, and published according to the following flowchart:

Flowchart of census/survey-taking - from planning to publication

Overall planning of census/survey-taking and establishment of organizations (Statistics Bureau)

(1) Preparing questionnaires (survey items), and deciding on survey methods, statistical tables, etc.

   Given the purpose and characteristics of a census/ survey, the survey items to be covered, survey methods to be employed, and statistical tables to be produced are considered and determined, and questionnaires and other documents are designed accordingly.

(2) Conducting pilot surveys

   In case of a large census/survey, pilot surveys are conducted to check the suitability of the questionnaire and the survey methods.

(3) Preparation of census/ survey documents, and establishment of organizations

   Manuals for census/ survey-taking, letters requesting cooperation, instructions on how to answer questions and other necessary documents are prepared. At the local level, enumerators and supervisors are selected and appointed, thus establishing the census/ survey organizations.

(4) Instruction/orientation for local governments and enumerators regarding the census/ survey-taking

   The Bureau and local governments hold a series of meetings to instruct and explain the census/ survey-taking process to local government officials and enumerators, especially fieldwork aspects, including the distribution and the collection of questionnaires.

Fieldwork (local governments and enumerators)

(5) Listing and contacting respondents, and distributing and collecting questionnaires

   Enumerators make a list of all the respondents they are to cover and contact, distribute questionnaires, request the cooperation of respondents, collect the completed questionnaires, and submit them to prefectural/municipal governments. This work is to be done during the designated period and in accordance with the designated methods.

(6) Examining completed questionnaires and other documents, and submitting them to the Bureau

   The prefectural and municipal governments conduct a series of checks to ascertain whether or not the submitted questionnaires and other documents have any deficiencies in their content, and in due course the prefectural governments submit them to the Bureau.

Receipt of questionnaires and other documents (Statistics Bureau)

(7) The Bureau receives questionnaires and other documents, and issues official acknowledgment to the prefectural governments.

Data-processing (National Statistics Center)

(8) Data contained in the questionnaires are processed by the Center to produce statistical tables.(See box)

Publication (Statistics Bureau)

(9) Releasing and analyzing results, and publishing reports

   Census/ survey results, which have been produced and certified by the Center, are analyzed by the Bureau, and a summary is released to the public as an advance report as promptly as possible. The final reports and electronic media such as CD-ROMs and MOs containing the results of the census/ survey are compiled later and distributed to the central, prefectural and municipal governments as well as major university libraries, etc., so that users can access them. The reports, including electronic data, can be purchased through the Government Publications Service Center and non-profit organizations.

Flow of census/survey-taking

Processing census and statistical survey data

    The questionnaires and other documents of various censuses and statistical surveys are processed by the National Statistics Center. The Center is responsible for processing the data collected by the Population Census and other fundamental censuses and statistical surveys in the country, as well as for research on essential statistical technology that is closely associated with this data-processing work. The Center thus aims to ensure the reliability of statistics and contribute to the development of statistical technology.

    The process for producing statistics from questionnaires collected in censuses and statistical surveys sent to the Center generally consists of procedures such as (1) registering and storing questionnaires, (2) inputting data, (3) coding entries, (4) editing data, (5) data processing, and (6) certifying the statistical tables produced.

General data-processing procedures

Flow of census/survey-taking

(1) Registering and storing questionnaires

    Upon receipt of questionnaires and other documents from central or local governments, the Center checks whether any are missing or duplicated; divides the documents into groups of a certain size, and places them in storage rooms that are specially designed for safekeeping.

(2) Inputting data

    The questionnaires are fed into optical character readers (OCRs) or keyed into computers.

(3) Coding entries

    Entries in the form of phrases or sentences are converted into alphanumeric codes according to certain classification standards such as industrial, occupational, and income and expenditure.

(4) Editing data

    Entries in the questionnaires are examined for duplication, omissions or invalid entries, and are corrected, if feasible. In addition, after coding the entries, all input data are checked thoroughly by computer for validity and consistency. Any errors detected are either corrected by computer, or edited by keyboard entry, referring to the original questionnaires.

(5) Data processing

    Clean data thus obtained are processed to produce statistical tables.

(6) Certifying the statistical tables

    The statistical tables produced are examined by computer in accordance with pre-programmed procedures to check for any inconsistencies within each table and among tables (automatic examination). Major figures are also analyzed, by comparing them to past figures and related statistics. Statistical tables are thus certified by the Center, and then submitted to the Bureau.

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