Statistics as information infrastructure for society
The purposes of this Act are to promote systematic and efficient development of official statistics(*) and to ensure the usefulness thereof through specifying basic matters concerning the production and provision of official statistics, and thereby to contribute to sound development of the national economy and enhancement of the living standards of the citizens. (Article 1)
Official statistics is recognized as an information infrastructure, which can be used not only for administrative purposes but also for the entire society.
Official statistics have the following fundamental principles.
・Official statistics shall be developed systematically.
・Official statistics shall be produced with appropriate and reasonable methodologies.
・Official statistics shall be ensured neutrality and reliability.
・Official statistics shall be provided widely for the citizens so that they are easily accessible for their effective use.
・Confidential matters concerning individuals or juridical persons, or other organizations that were used for producing official statistics shall be protected.
Administrative organs shall be responsible for producing official statistics in accordance with these fundamental principles. (Article 3 and 3 to 2)
Note: The term "official statistics" as used in this Act means statistics produced by national administrative organs, local public entities, etc. Statistics produced by statistical surveys, statistics produced by aggregating administrative records and statistics produced by processing other statistics are also included in official statistics.
In order to systematically and efficiently develop official statistics with limited budget and staff, the Statistics Act stipulates to develop "Master Plan Concerning the Development of Official Statistics", schedule of concrete efforts for roughly five years, in Article 4,. This "Master Plan Concerning the Development of Official Statistics" shall be decided by the Cabinet, after the study and deliberation of the Statistics Commission and the public comment
Population census statistics, national accounts and other particularly important statistics designated by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications among other statistics produced by national administrative organs are designated as "fundamental statistics", and official statistics will be systematically developed with central focus on the fundamental statistics.
Statistical Surveys conducted by national administrative organs
With regard to statistical surveys conducted by national administrative organs, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications examines and coordinates statistical surveys from the perspective of eliminating overlap between surveys, reducing the burden on respondents and systematically developing official statistics (Articles 9 to 11, 19 to 21).
Statistical surveys request individuals, juridical persons or other organizations to report facts for the purpose of producing statistics. Statistical surveys conducted by national administrative organs are divided into two categories: "fundamental statistical surveys" conducted to produce "fundamental statistics" and otherwise "general statistical surveys". Opinion polls, which intend to monitor opinions or attitudes other than facts are not included in Statistical surveys.
Fundamental statistical surveys
Fundamental statistical surveys, such as Population census, are particularly important statistical surveys for producing fundamental statistics that plays central role in official statistics, and given that fundamental statistics has higher necessity for producing it accurately, specific provisions such as below that are not found in general statistical surveys are provided.
・Obligation to report
In order to legally ensure accurate reporting for fundamental statistical surveys, it prohibits persons who are requested to report or answer fundamental statistical surveys from refusing to report or making false reports (Article 13), and a fine up to 500,000 yen are imposed on those who violate these rules (Article 61).
・Prohibition of impersonating Fundamental Statistical Surveys
In order to protect the information of respondents and to ensure confidence in the official statistical system, no person shall acquire information by using an indication or explanation that might lead persons to misidentify it as a request for a Fundamental Statistical Surveys (Article 17). Those who violate the prohibition are sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine up to 1 million yen, including who attempt to. (Article 57).
・Affairs undertaken by local public entities
Fundamental statistical surveys are often conducted as complete surveys or large-scale sample surveys, and it is difficult for officials in national government alone to complete surveys smoothly within a limited period of time. Therefore, in order to carry out surveys smoothly and efficiently, a part of the procedures may be undertaken by local public entities as statutorily entrusted functions (Article 16). The specific procedures conducted by local public entities are prescribed by Cabinet Order for each fundamental statistical survey.
The national government shall bear the full cost of the survey (Article 10, paragraph 4 of the Local Government Finance Act).
Establishment of statistical standards
As technical standards for ensuring integrity and comprehensiveness of official statistics, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications has established "statistical standards" such as the Japan Standard Industrial Classification (Article 28).
Promotion of utilizing statistical data
Although information collected through statistical surveys should not be utilized or provided for purposes other than original purpose of the statistical production (Article 40), it may be used secondarily only when it will contribute to public interest such as statistical research or education. Depending on the purpose of use, services as secondary use include providing questionnaire information (Article 33 and 33-2), tailor-made tabulations (Article 34) and providing anonymized data (Article 36).
Protection of the secret of the respondents of a statistical survey
A Person who is an official engaged in the handling of questionnaire information as well as a person entrusted the business shall manage the information appropriately and shall not divulge any secret of the respondents that may have come to their knowledge in the course of duties (Articles 39, Articles 41 to 43). Penalties are provided on those who violate such confidentiality obligation (Article 57, 59 and 61)
Establishment of the Statistics Commission
The Statistics Commission, composed of 13 or fewer members with relevant knowledge and experience, has been established as a professional, neutral and fair study and deliberation body.
The Statistics Commission plays an important role in official statistics as follows.
・ to study and deliberate matters provided by the Statistics act, such as basic matters pertaining to statistics, proposed Basic Plan , changes of fundamental statistics survey
・ to make recommendations to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications pertaining to the implementation progress of the Basic Plan
・ to state its opinion to the head of the administrative organs
In addition, in order to support the members of the Statistics Commission, officials of administrative organs are appointed as Executive Secretaries.
Publications of the status of enforcement
In order to ensure the proper implementation of the Statistics Act, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications shall monitor the implementation status of the Statistics Act every fiscal year, release the outline thereof and report to the Statistics Commission (Article 55).