[Letters] Why we need a census

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[Letters] Why we need a census

2010 is the year of census in the Northeast Asia. Korea and Japan conduct a census every five years, while China takes a census every 10 years. Korea and China’s are Nov. 1, while Japan has just completed a census on Oct. 1. A census is considered the most basic and important statistics of a nation, and three Northeast Asian nations are working to produce the most accurate census results, which best illustrates the composition of each country.

Statistics Korea, the agency responsible for the census, has leaped ahead to put the survey on the Internet, while being multicultural and environmentally friendly. For those respondents who are concerned about giving information on the one-person household or want to ensure extra privacy, the online census program was expanded.

Increasing diversity is a dilemma for Korea, along with a low fertility rate and an aging population. In order to accurately count the multicultural population, questions on nationality and entry year were added.

The Statistics Bureau under the Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has chosen “convenience, confidence and safety” as the slogans for this year’s census. An online census was introduced, and the questionnaire was translated into 27 languages and distributed among foreign respondents. Special questionnaires for people with disabilities and questionnaires with bigger print for senior citizens were also available.

With over 1.3 billion people, China is collecting information of not only Chinese citizens but also foreign residents in China for the first time. The census authority wants to apprehend the population of nonregistered children who violate the family planning policy. Rural-to-urban migrant workers residing in the industrial cities are to provide their actual address, not the address on their family registry.

Why do the Northeast Asian countries invest so much energy and effort in the census? The United Nations emphasized that a census is essential to obtain the data needed to maximize the democracy and justice in a country.

Therefore, Statistics Korea is entrusted with a great responsibility to produce a masterpiece census for the sake of true democracy in the Republic of Korea. Respondents should actively participate in the census and sincerely answer all questions so that the government doesn’t have to face obstacles when executing future policy using the census data.

There has never been a census that had 100 percent participation. Japan had a 98.3 percent and 95.6 percent response rate in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Participation rates in China were 99.93 percent and 98.19 percent in 1990 and 2000. In Korea, 98.43 percent and 99.1 percent of the respondents completed the census. Let’s boost the response rate a little more and reach 100 percent this time.


Jeon Gwang-hui,

president of the Population Association of Korea and a professor at Chungnam National University.
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