世論 (seron) is the Japanese word for public opinion. 世論調査 (seron chousa) is public opinion poll. “Seron” can also be spelt “yoron” in certain circumstances that I’m not absolutely clear on, but for the purposes of this web site “seron” it is! The web address is seronchousa, however, as seron was already reserved.

I started this web site as there is a definite lack of sites that collate Japanese public opinion… ack, that’s the sanitised version! The real reason is that I want to practice my Japanese to English translation skills, and that statistics and their interpretation interest me. Look up a Japanese news site like Japan Today and you’ll often see new public opinion polls (or just numbers seeming randomly plucked out of the air!) presented with zero analysis of what they mean. Usually the lack of analysis is down to the Kyodo News Agency just providing the most basic of stories, but even when one reads a printed newspaper with a longer, more detailed story there is no attempt made to analyse what the numbers really mean.

There was, for instance, a story at the start of this year (sorry, can’t find a link!) about how something like 50% of Japanese said they used child seats. In my totally unscientific experience, however, a figure closer to 5% would seem more believable, as most kids run around cars freely, as far as I can see. Why this huge discrepancy between what a casual observer might see and how people answered? No-one in the press,
as far as I could see, took this matter on. In this blog, in addition to the basic translation of the survey, I’ll add my own comment when appropriate.

A small note about the translation: as I am unaware of the exact legal status of translations of articles (direct translations of novels are copyright to the translator, but they are derivative works, so the translator cannot legally distribute without permission) I will try to avoid too literal a translation. Regardless of the law, plagiary is morally dishonest, regardless of whether or not imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Facts and figures cannot be copyrighted, I believe, so these are OK to reprint, however.

If you search Google for “Japan public opinion” currently the first hit is an interesting academic site collating various polls, but the latest survey is from 1999, it seems, so it’s quite a bit out of date. I hope I can make this site a popular destination for this search term and perhaps even a useful stopping-off point for those who need some numbers on Japan.

To finish, if you have a survey you would like translated (perhaps you saw a short unsatisfactory English article somewhere and would like to know what the original survey was), or have a pet subject you think I should investigate, drop me a message and I’ll see what I can do. I’ll try to satisfy small requests or fun requests relatively promptly. If you have a professional or other serious need for an accurate translation, be it public opinion related or not, drop me a message too and we’ll see what sort of business arrangement we can come to.

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