The government on Monday began distributing population questionnaires for the census conducted every five years, with survey officials taking steps this time to minimize person-to-person contact amid the coronavirus pandemic and to collect a half of responses online.
The census by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in its centennial this year, seeks data on all Japanese and non-Japanese residents such as household composition, changes in residence and employment situation as of Oct. 1 this year.
The ministry is calling for residents to fill out the questionnaires online, aiming to increase online participation rates to around 50 percent of total responses, up from 36.9 percent for the 2015 census.
Around 610,000 census takers who started knocking on doors Monday will put questionnaires in letter boxes, instead of handing them over at the door as they used to, and will give explanations of the content via the interphone to avoid direct contact.
The government will give out the questionnaires, comprising 16 questions, through the end of September, asking respondents to complete them by Oct. 7.
The period of collection is to end Oct. 20, extended by a month for areas with fewer census takers or areas still in recovery from the July’s torrential rain. As a consequence, publication of the census data for 2020 has been pushed back four months to next June.
The last census showed the population in Japan stood at 127,094,745, marking a decline for the first time since the survey began in 1920.