If you're doing social science research in Japan and need the latest population demographics or other data, there are several options.
- First, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) home page is a good starting point. They have all of their white papers and vital statistics listed there. If you can read Japanese, there is more information on the Japanese page than the English one.
- The MHLW also publishes many of its reports through the Health and Welfare Statistics Association. You can order many of their texts directly. For some of their more "popular" books such as the Vital Statistics of Japan, larger bookstores will carry it. It has a companion CD-ROM which I recommend. In Tokyo, I have the best luck in finding government publications at the Yaesu Book Center, located on the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station.
- The National Diet Library in Nagatacho also has most of the data available in publication form. They have a branch office in Kyoto and most university libraries can also request information by inter-library loan (if you can find the right reference librarian to ask). Local town libraries also usually carry the general statistic publications.
- When in doubt, I prefer going directly to the source. On the 19th floor of the MHLW building in Kasumigaseki is the MHLW Resource Library. They have a tremendous archive of information, all on open stacks. The reference librarians there are extremely helpful. For example, I wanted to get data on the unemployment rates of people with disabilities. They took me directly to the internal geppo of the MHLW division that issues it. The Ministry copy machine is expensive and they don't let you use your computer, so bring lots of coins with you.
Additions and corrections appreciated.