Japan will on Thursday kick off a national census conducted once every five years that is expected to be the first showing a drop in the nation’s population since the survey began in 1920.
The upcoming census, covering all residents and households in the country, regardless of nationality, will also be the first in which an online response system will be made available nationwide.
According to estimates by the internal affairs ministry, the nation’s population has fallen annually in recent years. Preliminary population figures based on the new census data are to be released in February.
The census “will provide basic data needed for various policies, including welfare services and disaster prevention, which are essential to the creation of Japan’s future,” a ministry official said, calling for cooperation in the survey.
The census will be taken household by household, covering the names, birthdays, occupations and other questions.
In the previous census, online responses were accepted only in Tokyo. This time, the ministry projects more than 10 million households will submit answers online, including via personal computers and smartphones.
If the number reaches the expected level, the census would be one of the biggest online surveys in the world that use similar techniques, the official said.
The forthcoming census will also be the first one since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent atomic crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, both of which forced the evacuation of many people in the Tohoku region.
The survey is expected to help deepen understanding of population movements triggered by the disaster.