The agency responsible for reporting Japan’s official statistics for tourism, transportation and infrastructure has been overstating data for almost 10 years, the country’s Prime Minister admitted this week.

Apparently, the misleading statistics — which didn’t involve tourism data, but rather monthly construction orders — won’t have a large affect on GDP. But the admission casts doubt on the country’s official statistics.

From Al Jazeera:

The Japanese government overstated construction orders data received from builders for years, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday, an admission that could dent the credibility of official statistics widely used by investors and economists.

It was not clear why the government started the practice of rewriting the data. It is also unclear how gross domestic product (GDP) figures may have been affected, though analysts expected any effect to be minimal, particularly as the builders involved were likely to be smaller firms.


The survey compiles public and private construction orders which in the 2020 fiscal year totalled roughly 80 trillion yen ($700bn), and is among data used to calculate GDP.

For the survey, the ministry collects monthly orders data from construction companies through local prefecture authorities.

Companies that were late in submitting data would often send in several months’ worth of figures at once, the Asahi Shimbun said. In these instances, the ministry would instruct local authorities to rewrite the orders for the combined months as the figure for the latest, single month.

“Overall GDP data is unlikely to change much,” said Akiyoshi Takumori, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.