The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about


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Hi Blog. Japan is gearing up to take another big Census of the population come October. This time, fortunately, we have a flash site explaining what it’s all about in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and English:

(Note how turdski Pakkun has become the Token White guy…)

Jolly decent of the GOJ to make the effort to explain what’s going on, if in prime Japanicana schoolteacher style.

As for the Census itself. I’ve always had a problem about it not measuring people (using optional questions) about their ethnicity (minzoku). Up until now, respondents were always asked about their nationality (kokuseki), never their roots, meaning someone like me can’t indicate anywhere that I’m ethnically an American-Japanese (amerika kei nihonjin).  But I see that as political:  This way Japan in government statistics officially remains the nondiverse Monocultural Society, with only 1.6% or so of the population as “foreign”.  If anyone sees that being handled differently this time, please let us know.  Not a lot of time right now to tool around the site.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

11 comments on “The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about

  • I notice you say “America kei Nihonjin”,as a term for “WHITE AMERICAN”.
    However, America should not be referred to as WHITE and i find that offensive as not all Americans are “white American”.
    I agree, it would be nice to be referred to in terms of our other historical nationality (e.g American/) therefore allowing America kei nihonjin to be relevant to a person from the USA.

    — You’re quite right, and I apologize. Written in a hurry and without adequate consideration. I shall correct it. Thanks for advising.

  • They boost a lot about security and warn people about imposters yet they don’t even show what the badge of the census taker looks like. How to protect yourself really from imposters? If you are able to post your reply anyway, why can’t they just send it in the mail? I am reluctant to open my door to strangers.

  • I would guess that the reason they do not measure “roots” has a lot more to do with ethnic Korean and Chinese Japanese and related politics than the idea of Japan as a monoculture.
    Separately, I am fine with not being asked my ethnicity. I like the idea that once I naturalize I can be indistinguishable from other Japanese as far as the government is concerned. Police discrimination is a reality, but I am happy with any government action that does not distinguish ethnic Japanese from non-ethnic Japanese.

    — Don’t guess. If you have counterevidence, please share it.

  • Being an American of Chinese-German extraction, if I were to naturalize here, could I refer to myself as a Chu-Dotsu kei Beikoku umareta Nihonjin (中独系米国生まれた日本人)? I’m curious.

    — I know I know. We get into canned worms when we view Americanness (a nationality) as an ethnicity. But I don’t see how else to do it when we’re talking about the creation of a modern diaspora from a relatively young country, as I discuss here. I still think we should have the option to hyphenate ourselves if we so choose for identity and census purposes. How you wish to render your roots is your decision.

  • At least this shows that they know that there ARE people of foreign ethnicity living in Japan long enough to warrant their contribution to the census. Hopefully, increased awareness of NJ in modern society will lead to other positive things in favor of the NJ in today’s modern Japanese society.

  • I fully sympathise with Debito’s take on this, however I suppose the devil’s advocate position is that at least the government has made an effort to recognise the existance of NJ by producing multi-ligual materials etc… I doubt they are more patronising than the Japanese versions – governments, particularly the Japanese one and civil services usually do patronise their citizens. At least it’s not just a set of Orwellian orders set out with an emphasis on the punishment you could get for not complying – like posters at immigration etc… As for the inability to specify ethnicity, I guess the flip side is that they are not descriminating between Foreign-born Japanese and Japanese Born Japanese, and so later cannot say that they know that all Japanese recorded are ethincally Japanese, so it could work both ways. I have to say I feel uncomforable here in the UK when asked by ethnicity in addition to nationality and how and whether I answer depends on who is asking and in what situation.


    There, all caps so you can read it again and hopefully let it sink in this time.

  • 1. I suppose Pakkun will take any paying job nowadays.

    2. Notice how it stresses on the site how this is “not for immigration control or law enforcement” purposes.

    Why? Do we have something to hide? It seems to suggest they think English readers do. Though the way the police check anyone foreign looking etc etc it’s hardly surprising if NJs are cagey. Call me paranoid (it is what TOkyo has made of me) but the fact they say it isn’t for these purposes makes me think it is.
    Surely any data is going on a database which I presume the police could access if they wanted. Ditto immigration. And ditto the taxation people. I dont have much confidence in data protection in Japan, and this is the country where they regularly “lose” people’s data.

    So I m going to fill it out with the bare minimum of info, plus the bit about not having a vote; anything I deem private that I think they dont need to know I ll just leave blank “by accident”.

  • Yeah, I got mine, a pack of papers and envelopes, one paragraph of which was in Japanese. It asks if anyone lives here and explains what is the census. I think I am too lazy to figure out what I’m supposed to do with the paper (although I am not too lazy to go online and complain about it, hmmm…) so I’ll just put it back into my door postbox…?

    Thanks for the link, Debito, maybe I’ll find it useful…

  • Anybody knows what happens if one refuses to answer?
    Fine or any other things?
    Don’t feel like giving them too much private knwoledge about myself.
    Can I blantly refuse to do it?

    — Dare you. Michael Moore tried.

  • Australia was worse. They ask a LOT of personal questions. Maybe the staff just came across that way in an effort to be chatty/friendly, but the “mate” searching me at Brisbane (I dont know why I was singled out for this honor, other than I was traveling alone) even went into the tiny corners of my coin holder and turned it inside out. Then he wanted to know who the picture of the Thai lady was in my wallet, and where she was now. Which of my two jobs paid better,etc.

    I fed him a tatemae croc of XXXX.(not the Australian beer brand 4X).

    I think he exceeded the boundaries of his job description.

    Having said that, he missed the potential concealed weapon that my walking stick was-didnt even check it. Too distracted by my memorabilia?

    Japanese customs have never gone that far, usually just have a quick look and a couple of questions. If they get too personal, maybe you can make it up as personal details such as marital status, occupation, or sexual orientation, may change. “Is your GF/BF husband/wife Japanese?” is particularly irksome. But they asked that at London Heathrow too.

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