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Toward Further Improvement of Financial and Economic Statistics:

The Bank's Basic Principles and Its Recent Actions*

  • This is an English translation of the Japanese original paper released on August 8, 2002. The English version of the full report, which will be published in the November 2002 issue of the Bank of Japan Quarterly Bulletin.

October 15, 2002
Bank of Japan

Click on ron0210a.pdf (145KB) to download the full text.

Summary

The Bank of Japan compiles and releases the Tankan (Short-Term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan),"Money Stock," wholesale price indexes (WPI), and other various financial and economic statistics concerning financial markets and the Bank's transactions and operations.

The economic background to these statistics has changed dramatically in recent years. First, Japan's financial and economic structures have changed in response to globalization of the world economy.  Second, information technology (IT) has made rapid progress.  Third, the necessity of reducing the burden on reporters of data has been often pointed out.1  The Bank has considered it important to respond appropriately to each of these changes and to further enhance the transparency and reliability of the statistics.2  Accordingly, it has thoroughly examined and reviewed the process of collecting, compiling, and releasing statistical data since the beginning of 2000. The Bank's basic principles, which are applied to the current reviewing process and its key actions, are as follows.3

First, the transparency of the Bank's statistical data should be improved. This step is becoming increasingly important to enhance the transparency of the Bank's market operations and Japan's financial markets as well as other areas. The Bank has enhanced the transparency of its statistical data based on the recognition that it is an important factor for improvement of statistical data.  The Bank focuses on improving the transparency of its statistics for both a wide range of users and reporting entities.  Regarding the former, financial and economic datacollected by the Bank will in principle be made public so that the benefits of data users are increased to the extent possible, unless permission to publish the data is refused by the reporting entity.  This principle will also be applied to data collected primarily for purposes other than that of compiling statistics.  Also, the Bank's practical methods for compiling and estimating the statistics will be disclosed in greater detail. Regarding the reporting entities, the Bank has decided to establish a system to enable the reporting entities to obtain an overview of the data collection procedures in cases where the data collection process is complex and it is difficult to obtain the overall picture.

Second, the Bank will provide statistics that are as accurate as possible, reflecting the changes in Japan's financial and economic structure. This objective is becoming more important as structural changes accelerate due to financial andeconomic globalization and continued advances in IT innovation. For example, as off-balance-sheet financial products have become more important relative to traditional instruments such as deposits and loans, the Bank now compiles and publishes statistics relating to these new financial products. Again, the Bank started to publish data relating to real-time gross settlement (RTGS) after the changeover to the new RTGS system. In addition, the Tankan and the WPI are currently in the process of revision to reflect the structural changes in the economy.

Third, it is necessary for the Bank to place greater importance on grasping and responding to data users' needs, which are becoming more varied and more sophisticated.  As the pace of changes in the economy increases, the Bank is actively reviewing its release schedule for statistics to respond to the public's persistent requests that they be released speedily.  Improvement of the transparency of data, the first principle mentioned above, includes the expansion of the coverage of data, and this contributes to the Bank's active response to users' needs.  The Bank has also reviewed the data provision methods such as using its Web site to increase users' data accessibility.

Last, the Bank considers it extremely important to reduce the burden on the reporters by streamlining the process of compiling statistics.  While reducing the reporters' burden has been an important issue for the Bank, it has taken the opportunity to further reduce the number of the categories of compiled data by carrying out a thorough review of the necessity of collecting each type of data, as a cross-departmental project.  At the Bank's head office, the amount of data collected has been reduced by more than 10 percent. The Bank has made steady progress in introducing online data collection using IT in order to increase the efficiency of collection and reduce the burden on the reporting entities.  It also pays careful attention to the security of data collected online.  The Bank also decided on further measures to ensure the confidentiality of data in every process involved in compiling data to maintain the trust of reporters.

Based on these principles, the Bank has taken various measures to improve the quality and the compilation process of its financial and economic statistics, and will continue to make efforts to further improve the statistics it compiles.  The Bank will also contribute to the improvement of statistics compiled by other agencies, by sharing the skills it has acquired through its own experience and cooperating internationally.

The following pages describe in greater detail the recent improvements to the Bank's financial and economic statistics.

  1. The necessity of reducing the respondents' burden has been pointed out several times in the past.  For example, see the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) (1999) and (2000; available in Japanese only).  The Government recognizes this issue and has conducted several surveys on it: Management and Coordination Agency, Statistical Standards Department, Statistics Bureau (2000) and Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, Statistics Bureau and Statistics Center (2001); bothavailable in Japanese only.
  2. For the Bank's efforts to improve statistics prior to 2000, see BOJ Research and Statistics Department (1999).
  3. The actions described are those taken at the Bank's head office. The Bank's branches have taken similar actions, based on the head office's actions and also taking into account factors special to each region.