Japanese Sociological Review
Online ISSN : 1884-2755
Print ISSN : 0021-5414
ISSN-L : 0021-5414
A Criticism of Public Opinion Polls Conducted by Japanese Local Governments
Shinsuke OTANI
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2003 Volume 53 Issue 4 Pages 471-484

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Abstract

Most Japanese local governments have conducted a variety of public opinion polls that are used to formulate General Planning Policies. Unfortunately, Japanese sociologists often rely on academic social surveys and pay little attention to these public opinion polls. I think it is very important to examine whether these polls accurately reflect citizen's opinions, because collecting and analyzing accurate data is fundamental to producing properly informed social policies.
From this point of view, I conducted a research on public opinion polls which were carried out by forty-four local governments in the Osaka Prefecture. In this research, I interviewed the staff responsible for each local government's poll. Besides these interviews, I collected all of the questionnaires of every opinion poll and assessed their quality. Through this study I discovered some serious inadequacies. Most of the staff responsible for the polls did not have a comprehensive knowledge of appropriate research methods. This lack of knowledge was evident in the results of questionnaire analyses, which indicated that only 34% of the questionnaires used methods that would accurately measure public opinion.
In order to conduct accurate opinion polls in the future, I would like to strongly emphasize that it is necessary for more sociologists to become actively involved in questionnaire design. This can be achieved by having sociologists educate the many people who are in charge of conducting opinion polls, and working with them to design questionnaires.

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