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The concept of Grid Square has been developed as one of the analytical methods in geography. In 1929 a Finnish geographer, Graneau, announced in his research paper about the area analysis of natural and social phenomena using a 1 square kilometer Grid Square. This is how it started. Since then, this method has become widely used to analyze and research the spatial distribution status and development process in the realm of geography.
We first used this method for the governmental statistics in 1969 when there was a high growth of the economy. In 1969 the Statistics Bureau of the Prime Minister's Office (the present Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) tentatively compiled the Grid Square Statistics, which are based on the 1965 Population Census, the 1966 Establishment Census and the 1968 Housing Survey, as "Integrated Statistics for the Actual Situation of National Land" for specific areas such as Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Since then, not only government sector but also private sector have been promoting collection and maintenance of regional information using the Grid Square Method.
The reason why the Grid Square Statistics are becoming important as small area statistics lies in the rising demand to small area information.
Firstly, the economic growth starting from the 1950's brought rapid social and economic change, including the concentration of population in urban areas. It became necessary for municipalities, as well as the national government and prefectures, to prevent the further widening of the regional gaps in order to realize a well-balanced growth. Along with this, private sector also wanted more minute area information as basic information for knowing what is happening and what will happen, for market research and rational management.
Secondly, the Town and Village Merger Acceleration Law was enforced in 1953 and a lot of smaller municipalities were merged. As a result, the number of municipalities in Japan, which was 10, 414 in the 1950 Population Census: Tokyo 23 special wards counted as one city, reduced to 3,511 in 1960 when the mergers were settled. Subsequently, the size of a municipality expanded more than threefold: from about 8,000 population and 36 square kilometers in 1950 to about 27,000 population and 107 square kilometers in 1960. However, the statistical data were still tabulated by municipality. Therefore, the demand to the statistical data for smaller area was increased.
Thirdly, municipalities started to construct public facilities such as water supply and sewerage systems. As a result, the statistical data tabulated by municipality was becoming insufficient in designing administrative plans such as social infrastructure improvement.
In order to solve this problem and to collect/compare a variety of statistical data in a common smaller area, the installation of Grid Square Method was suggested. And the current "Grid Square" was designed after much discussion and consideration. In 1973, the Administrative Management Agency (the current Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) announced Standard Grid Square and Grid Square Code Used for the Statistics (Announcement No. 143 by the Administrative Management Agency on July, 12, 1973) as the integrated compilation method of the Grid Square.
Also, this compilation method of the Grid Square was authorized as JIS in Janurary, 1976 (Code JIS X 0410).