THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN has conducted monthly public opinion polls, using face-to-face interviews, since March 1978. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the response rate to these surveys has been decreasing, and is remarkably low in recent days. Since 2006, the average yearly response rate has been under 60%.
I believe the main reason for the decline is increasing awareness of personal privacy. As evidence of this, there has been a greater rise in the percentage of people who decline to participate, than in the percentage of those who are not at home when interviewers visit. We have taken steps to improve the situation, such as hiring skilled interviewers, but it has not stopped the decline. At this moment, we do not have a sure-fire method for improving the rate of response.
The current fashion is for RDD surveys, and if face-to-face interviews are to survive, I believe we must increase understanding of the importance of opinion polls. To that end, in addition to further improving the implementation of our surveys, we should make every effort to prepare fair-minded questions, analyze and report survey results appropriately and make data available to the public.