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Open AccessArticle

Meta-Cognition of Efficacy and Social Media Usage among Japanese Civil Society Organizations

1
Graduate school of humanities and social sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8577, Japan
2
Faculty of humanities and social sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8577, Japan
3
Department of political science, Tokai University, Tokyo 151-8677, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Information 2020, 11(2), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/info11020118
Received: 10 January 2020 / Revised: 19 February 2020 / Accepted: 19 February 2020 / Published: 21 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Citizenship and Participation 2018)

Abstract

This paper examines how social media are affecting Japanese civil society organizations, in relation to efficacy and political participation. Using data from the 2017 Japan Interest Group Study survey, we analyzed how the flow of information leads to the political participation of civil society organizations. The total number of respondents (organizations) were 1285 (942 organizations in Tokyo and 343 from Ibaraki). In the analysis of our survey we focused on the data portion related to information behavior and efficacy and investigated the meta-cognition of efficacy in lobbying among civil society organizations in Tokyo and Ibaraki. We found that organizations that use social media were relatively few. However, among the few organizations that use social media, we found that these organizations have a much higher meta-cognition of political efficacy in comparison to those that do not use social media. For instance, social media usage had a higher tendency of having cognition of being able to exert influence upon others. We also found that organizations that interact with citizens have a higher tendency to use social media. The correspondence analysis results point towards a hypothesis of how efficacy and participation are mutually higher among the organizations that use social media in Japan.
Keywords: social media; political efficacy; civil society organizations; JIGS; interest groups; Japan social media; political efficacy; civil society organizations; JIGS; interest groups; Japan

1. Introduction

The actual political power among civil society organizations are often found to be marginal, and this holds true for these organizations in Japan as well. They are often at a disadvantage due to lacking in various resources, especially human and financial. They also often lack the wealth of networks or connections that are held by more well-established organizations, such as political parties. For these organizations that are lacking in resources, it is vital for their survival to implement innovation, such as usage of new media platforms in their daily operations. These platforms are readily available and are effective means for reaching out to citizens, at a fraction of the cost of traditional means. One can suggest that media access requires skills and knowledge, and with an effective combination of both through social media, civil society organizations have an opportunity of becoming influential. There is rising interest in the power of social media, especially social network services and the potential of impact by civil society organizations in Japan.
Until recently, citizens generally had two methods to pursue their needs when the government was concerned. One method is to petition politicians or administrative branches of government or vote, and the other is to participate through institutions such as legal demonstrations. Currently, the Internet and socially networked environment is allowing for new communication behavior among civil society organizations and a transformation of their functions is gradually occurring in Japan. Social networks and their impacts on normal civil society organizations in Japan is an important topic to investigate, to better understand how new media are changing these organizations. Our paper attempts to show an accurate picture of the situation in Japan and demonstrate the ways social media are affecting civil society organizations’ participation. We will employ data obtained through the 2017 Japan Interest Group Study survey and through our analysis we shall explain how the flow of information leads to the political participation of civil society organizations.

2. Meta-Cognition of Efficacy, the Japan Interest Group Study (JIGS) Project and Methodology

The data we will employ in this study is from the 2017 JIGS survey (J-JIGS4). This survey was conducted in Japan to determine the basic structure of civil society organizations in Japan. The survey is the fourth wave of the JIGS Project, conducted from September through October of 2017 in Ibaraki prefecture and Tokyo (excluding the island territories of Tokyo).
In 1997, the JIGS project was initiated at the University of Tsukuba. JIGS started as an empirical, multinational comparative study of interest groups and civil society. This two-decade long endeavor has continued to collect data through surveys. In the beginning, Japan was surveyed as its initial point of reference. Starting with the 1997 survey in Japan (J-JIGS1), it has conducted surveys in 15 countries (including four waves in Japan, and two waves each in South Korea, the United States, Germany, and China) as of now (Figure 1).
The objective of JIGS is to clarify the political structure of these nations by identifying the activities of various groups operating within civil society. The way civil society works in partnership with the state becomes apparent through this data and we can discover the intricacies of how the state interacts with civil society. We will refer to civil society in this study as the area that falls in between the family and state, where social actors do not make any attempt to gain anything financially or in relation to power. The architecture of the JIGS surveys has a background in interest group theory and civil society theory. This is in concert with the trend in research on postwar Japanese politics. Previous studies in Japan have studied the roles that the economy or industry groups have taken in contrast to state authority.
The target of the J-JIGS4 survey consisted of all organizations (associations and groups) found in the telephone directory, NTT i-Townpage. Out of the total of all 8203 organizations in Tokyo and 1516 organizations in Ibaraki (Total N = 9719), the survey conducted random sampling, resulting in 3400 organizations in Tokyo and 1000 organizations in Ibaraki (Total N = 4400) being extracted for the survey.
Although Tokyo and Ibaraki are in proximity geographically, Tokyo is a major, global metropolis whereas Ibaraki is a peripheral rural prefecture. These two areas provide Japanese samples of two different characteristics that are optimum for comparison, as the geographic proximity excludes any other variables to affect our results. Our team has been continuously conducting surveys on these two areas in Japan since 1997—when we conducted our first survey J-JIGS1. Through conducting a total of four surveys over two decades, we have been observing the changes among civil society organizations of these two distinct areas (see Table 1). In the past three surveys, we have conducted our survey by sending a questionnaire through surface mail with a cover letter and self-addressed stamped envelope for returning the response. For each survey, we requested the questionnaire to be responded by the director or person responsible for daily operations of each association. For J-JIGS4, as in the three previous surveys, we sent our questionnaire by surface mail and requested the survey to be responded to by the director or person responsible, however in addition to the paper version for response, our research team prepared a website for responding as well. The respondents were allowed to choose response style freely, as mentioned in our cover letter when requesting cooperation. In comparison to the previous three surveys, the fourth survey had a smaller population (N), therefore we employed this method to increase the number of the sample for the survey. Through this improvement in methodology, the total number of respondents totaled 1285 (942 organizations in Tokyo and 343 organizations in Ibaraki). Although our data covers only two prefectures in the Kanto region of Japan as samples, as mentioned above, we can argue that Tokyo as the major metropolis and Ibaraki as a peripheral rural prefecture allows a research perspective that can be considered to provide a more general and standardized observation of Japan.
The J-JIGS4 survey had 53 items that measured in multiple perspectives, each association’s various activities in relation in civil society after 2010 in Japan, the structure of each association, the networks held by the association, and the impact that each association has toward society.
In the analysis of this survey we will focus on the data portion related to information and communication behavior and also efficacy. We will investigate the meta-cognition of efficacy in lobbying among civil society organizations in Tokyo and Ibaraki. To be precise, we examined the differences of efficacy levels of each association depending on the measurement of usage of social media usage in the daily operations.
Bandura [1] is well known for social cognitive learning theory, but has also addressed the perception on how individuals experience efficacy when handling situations in specific domains. He suggested the following: (1) influence on the development of efficacy (control beliefs), (2) mastery learning (personal successes), (3) vicarious experiences (provided by observing social models), (4) social persuasion (positive verbal appraisals offered by others), and (5) self-feedback based on physiological and emotional states. Efficacy beliefs influence human functioning through four general areas of mental processing, including cognitive processes that determine the visualization of goal-directed behavior and are generated and organized by evaluating one’s capability. Planning occurs like thinking, and a sense of restorative effectiveness maintains the thought process where patience becomes vital in difficult tasks. The process of motivation is also inherently connected, and beliefs of effectiveness affect the choice of goals, effort expended, and resilience against setbacks. Emotional processes are also strongly influenced by beliefs about efficacy. Anxiety/confidence, depression/resilience, and unfulfilled desire/self-realization are examples of contrasting effects of high and low efficacy [1].
The “efficacy level” in our study, is the score of meta-cognition of efficacy among the associations. The item on the self-assessment of influence, which forms the basis of the measurement of “efficacy level” asks each organization to answer the question “How influential is your organization when policy issues arise in areas of activity within its geographic scope?” on a five-point scale. Although the item was measured on a five-point scale, it was recoded to 0 to 4 to indicate the efficacy level of each association. Of course, we understand that measuring efficacy levels in this way is not necessarily the optimum way because the effectiveness of an organization (self-efficacy) and its perceived subjective impact on society are not equal. However, many of the civil society organizations covered in this study share a common interest in the public interest as well as in the non-governmental and non-profit sectors. Examples include trade unions and professional and academic organizations (Academic Society Secretariat, etc.). Their primary function is to represent the opinions of their members and pursue their interests. Therefore, in this study, we focused on the subjective impact of the organization as an index to measure the effectiveness in light of the characteristics of the organization under study, and conducted an analysis using the score.
This self-assessment of influence is also significantly associated with the experience of implementing and terminating policies (as in the item—”Has your organization successfully implemented, modified, or blocked certain policies or policies in the national or local government?”) therefore, we used the concept of efficacy in this study as well [2]. As we utilized the dimension of self-assessment, this is similar to other common efficacy measures used in other surveys, however as we were measuring the association’s influence through the evaluation by a member inside the organization, we needed to alter the original concept of efficacy as a derived construct, meta-cognition of efficacy. Subsequently, we will refer to the meta-cognition of the organization’s own efficacy as “efficacy level”.
In our survey, we did not measure the different channels of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Line. We had not included this item in the previous three J-JIGS projects, as this was the first time that we measured the usage of social media. Predominantly, Japanese civil society organizations often deal with local municipal governments solely through paper printed or handwritten documents. Japan is still a dominantly “paper based” society where facsimile machines are still in use, and paper-based handwritten applications are still common due to the prevalence of red ink stamps (inkan). Although Japan is often viewed as technologically advanced, the movement to allow for more electronic governmental application procedures has been comparatively slow. For instance, the official distribution of Japanese Individual Number Cards or My-Number Cards was initiated in January 2016, and these cards include IC (integrated circuit) chips for identification. However, the diffusion of these cards has been relatively slow due to reluctance among the Japanese population to adopt this technology due to privacy concerns among Japanese. The same type of low-enthusiasm also encompasses new media such as social media in Japan, therefore we anticipated low adoption of social media among the civil society organizations and we did not subdivide our measurement of social media among the various channels.

3. Literature Review and Research Question

According to Abe [3], a liberal and democratic system can be characterized by three elements: Freedom, diversity, and opportunity of different voices to be heard. One way that this is facilitated is by the numerous organizations that already exist, working to improve society in Japan and elsewhere. In Japan, during the post-World War II period, many new organizations were quickly formed during the expansion of industry and economic development. During this time, new information infrastructures were also being created, leading to a new phase and era. This was the same era in where we saw the birth and growth of civil society organizations in Japan. Although having an important role in a democratic society, civil society organizations are unfortunately poor in human and financial resources in Japan when compared to other political organizations. For instance, civil society organizations obviously lack the financial sources that most Japanese political parties have. Pekkanen [4] has indicated how Pharr has coined the phrase “four smalls” depicting how Japan’s civil society organizations have small membership, small numbers of professional staff, small budgets, and small geographic scopes. Furthermore, he investigated why Japan’s civil society organizations are so small, as only a few large professionally managed national organizations exist [4]. He discovered the political institutions such as regulatory frameworks, financial flows, and political opportunity structures as the main factors that are holding down Japanese civil society organizations. Pekkanen pointed out how Japan had the second smallest number of civil society organizations with employed personnel of all the OECD countries, with Germany coming in last [4]. In such a situation, it becomes vital for civil society organizations to pursue political knowledge to improve their daily operations. Political knowledge or having political information that may be relevant in times when citizens have to pursue their needs when the government was concerned, is an important element for the maintenance of civil society organizations.
Robert Putnam [5] argues that the civil society organization is key to promoting political socialization among citizens. The civil society organization works as a training ground for political participation. The notion is more about political efficiency than political efficacy as it sees civil society organizations as a vehicle of political activism. The Neo-Tocquevillian idea of civil society is dependent on the citizen’s direct participation which Putnam supports faithfully [6].
The massive Internet revolution in the 1990s has challenged the core idea of direct participation by citizens, advocated by Neo-Tocquevillian style governance. In the United States, citizens are relying more on social media such as Twitter than traditional media outlets [7]. Political efficacy can encompass the broader spectrum of society and social media is a tool which can cross social boundaries. Meta-cognition of efficacy has an ability to set the political narrative involving civic knowledge. This is a sharp departure from the Neo-Tocquevillian governance of civil society which has a tendency to encourage civil society organizations through direct participation within a given geographical location. Recent empirical studies indicate how social media could also promote social capital and citizen participation [8]. Therefore, the aim of this study is to estimate the effect of social media on the civil society organizations in Japan.
Social media is a potential proponent for an open government [9] and allows for residents to be more involved in public services and have more influence [10]. The flow of information between the government and citizens via social media creates a public space [11,12,13,14] and educates public issues in the citizens’ daily life [15].
Previous studies have indicated how knowledge and information is also an important element for building political efficacy [16,17]. Efficacy and effectiveness are often used in an interoperable fashion, but have been distinguished as follows [18]. Efficacy expresses the effect in case a policy or program has been put into motion in optimal conditions, whereas, effectiveness is used more in real-world conditions or situations. Previous studies have explored how political information has been formed into political knowledge, and how it can possibly build efficacy, and subsequently, how political efficacy can possibly foster behavior leading into political participation. The mechanism of how information and knowledge leads to behavior or political participation is still unclear, however, we can safely argue here that higher efficacy will allow for citizens to be more likely to participate [19].
One noteworthy form of political participation is lobbying. Lobbying is defined in the JIGS survey as a construct that applies specifically to organizations. Lobbying in the JIGS survey is defined as all intentional activities taken by the interest group to influence the political actors. The organizations conduct lobbying activities aim at protecting their interests and maintain or derive beneficial policies from the government or political actors [20]. Dye [21] describes this democratic process by organizations as a bottom up policymaking process. Our study is an attempt to estimate how much social media is affecting this bottom up policymaking process in Japan and we posit the following research question.
RQ: How does social media usage affect the perception of efficacy in political participation among civil society organizations?
This RQ was analyzed in three stages. First, we examined the information activities of civil society organizations in the “Daily operations (information transmission)” “information collection” and “Lobbying (advocacy activity)” and the extent to which social media is used. In these analyses, the percentage of organizations engaged in each activity was shown, as well as the efficacy level score described above. However, the efficacy level was calculated by the authors for the sake of facilitating a better understanding of what kind of information behavior was conducted by organizations that value their influence highly. Therefore, the independence was confirmed by the chi-square test focusing on the composition ratio rather than the difference between these mean values. Correspondence analysis was then conducted to determine the similarity of organizations using social media between daily work and lobbying. Through this analysis, we examined whether an organization uses social media only in specific situations or in a consistent and mixed fashion. Finally, a logistic regression analysis was performed to determine which organizations were more likely to use social media.

4. Survey Results

As the civil society organizations in this study are non-profit, they are involved in activities such as conducting seminars and symposia, proliferating information and training skills for members. In essence, they are exchanging information and meeting other people with similar interests and orientations. In this study, we focus on their usage of the Internet and also on social media.
Based on the survey results, Table 2 describes the percentage and count of types of activities that are conducted by civil society organizations. By viewing the various activities, we can observe that many of these activities are information oriented, and the percentage of traditional media is still high, but there is a gradual increase of organizations implementing social media into their operations. Here, we can observe that approximately 75% of the organizations have a website, however, less than 25% use social media. In considering the current diffusion of social media and Internet infrastructure, the percentage of organizations owning a website and social media usage is not particularly high in Japan. In contrast, their most common activity is having face to face meetings and councils, as over 90% of the organizations responded so. One can infer that this is an important activity for the organizations. In contrast, owning a website is the second highest activity whereas social media usage is not the lowest in the table, therefore, we can suggest that these activities may be considered moderately common. We can infer from the data that although many organizations may have subscribed to owning various social media accounts, many of the organizations have not yet made using social media into a normal routine of their daily activities. We can suggest the low percentage of social media usage due to the fact that many organizations are still struggling to incorporate social media usage into their operations.
The measurement of “Efficacy” in Table 2 refers to the meta-cognition of efficacy of influence among civil society organizations. When we put this measurement into consideration, we found that civil society organizations that use social media may have a higher self-efficacy of influence. Our rationale behind this suggestion lies in the fact that among the civil society organizations that use social media, the measurement of efficacy of influence has a higher mean than those that do not use social media.
Table 3 describes from which sources do civil society organizations receive information. From Table 3, we can observe that ministries are the most common sources of information at 41.5%. This is followed by their own membership of each civil society organization (32.9%) and affiliated organizations (32.3%). No information source was found to account for more than 50% in the survey. We can see that social media only accounts for 5% and that it is not a particularly popular information source among the organizations that responded to this survey. Civil society organizations that use social media evaluated their efficacy level of influence to be higher, however, it was not statistically significant.
The information sources that lead to the highest evaluation of influence among civil society organizations were local governments, political parties, and parliament members. This result is indicative of how traditional information channels are still regarded as being the means that convey higher efficacy of influence among civil society organizations. Social media still needs to increase its presence along with nonprofits and local neighborhood associations, as these information sources had a low percentage in our survey.
Table 4 represents the survey results describing the various methods of lobbying taken by civil society organizations. Petitions were found to have the highest percentage among the methods of lobbying, at over 40%. This was followed by the action of collecting subscribers to petitions (23.3%), forming alliances with other organizations (17.6%), and making public comments (16.1%). In contrast, online lobbying was found to be much lower, as expressing opinions through websites or blogs (9.6%) and social media (5%) were under 10%.
The measurement of efficacy of influence among organizations and lobbying methods was generally higher than those that did not use these methods. This result does not conflict with our other tables, as the findings are consistent. Significant differences were also found among petitions, collecting subscribers to petitions, and public comments. These fall into the category of lobbying towards administrations. Japan has traditionally been considered to have a strong bureaucracy, and from this result we can demonstrate through our analysis results how civil society organizations use lobbying methods. From the data, one can suggest how the bureaucratic system is still maintaining superiority in Japan.
Figure 2 is our analysis of the daily operations among civil society organizations and lobbying activities. We conducted a correspondence analysis and through the analysis results, we can observe how social media is found at a distance from the other operations and lobbying activities as they are plotted on the lower right quadrant and are situated by each other. The location of this plotting is indicative of how social media usage and social media lobbying activities are conducted relatively in concert, whereas the correspondence among other operations and lobbying activities are lesser in comparison. This analysis result illustrates how civil society organizations that begin using social media will be more enthusiastic to use social media for other means, and in this case, even for lobbying activities.
From Table 2, Table 3 and Table 4 and Figure 2, we can infer that few civil society organizations are using social media, however, among those that do, they use social media quite often for information collection and transmission. The political efficacy among these few civil society organizations is also high. To examine what types of organizations have frequent and concentrated usage of social media, we looked into the internal structure of the civil society organizations in order to compare the variables that might affect usage. The variables considered for the internal structure of the organization are leader’s gender, leader’s age, ideology, political affiliates, capital assets, and membership. The leader’s age was recorded in four categories by age. Ideology also asked respondents to rate their own subjective “Ideology” on a scale of seven from liberal to conservative. When frequency distribution was confirmed, it became a normal distribution with the fourth category (neutral) as a peak. Therefore, the first to third categories were recoded as “liberal,” the fourth category as “neutral,” and the fifth to seventh categories as “conservative.”
From Table 5, we found the age of the organization leader to be significantly younger and liberal. Moreover, we found a non-significant tendency that leaders were to be female (plus two points percentage), and not supporting any particular political party to be higher in percentage by 10 points. We were not able to find any differences with social media usage in relation to capital assets or membership.
Table 6 shows the logistic regression analysis results of the various variables and internal structure of social media. The analysis is from two models. Model one excludes the leader’s attributes such as gender and age and Model two includes these attributes. From Model one we can observe how in comparison to politically liberal organizations, politically conservative or neutral organization social media usage is about half, whereas organizations having more than 500 members use social media twice as much. From Model two, we can observe how social media usage decreases as the age increases, as social media usage is half among organizations with leaders that are over 70 years old, in comparison to organizations with leaders that are under 50 years of age. As in Model one, in comparison to politically liberal organizations, conservative or neutral organization social media usage is about half, whereas organizations having more than 500 members use social media twice as much.
From Table 5 and Table 6, we can infer that organizations with leaders that are over 70, politically conservative or neutral organizations are less likely to use social media. In the 2018 White Paper by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, social media usage in Japan peaks at those aged in their fifties and decreases from those in their sixties and older [22]. The aging of leaders of Japanese civil society organizations is also an issue [23].

5. Discussion and Conclusions

When putting political power into consideration, the power that civil society organizations have are marginal at best, and this holds true in Japan as well. They are at a disadvantage due to severe deficits in various resources, human and financial especially. They also do not have the cultural capital and networks or connections that are held by political parties. However, as Dahlgren points out, with the globalization of countries, the range of measures that can be implemented by central and local governments has been limited and narrowed. This has in effect, restricted policy making in democratic societies. As a result, citizens who have lost their sense of effectiveness and trust in politics have started to make some kind of appeal through NGOs, NPOs, and other civil society organizations. This may have further developed into counter-democracy [24]. Rather than appealing as individuals, people with similar interests may gather and engage in advocacy activities, such as disseminating information through organizations and pursuing profits, which may have a greater impact.
Although not absolutely non-existent, seeing political shifts made by civil society organizations is still a rarity. For these organizations crucially lacking in all kinds of resources, it is vital for their survival to quickly adopt new media platforms such as social media that are being made available to them because they are effective in raising cognition of their influence, and as many of them only require an Internet connection, the means of connecting to citizens is available at a fraction of the cost of traditional media.
The advent of social media is changing the definition and mechanism of what has been deemed to be newsworthy, or of news value. The mainstream news agenda is still influential, however, it is no longer an all-mighty sole purveyor of information, as social media allows for new channels of information flow. Established powers are recognizing that these channels of information are valid, effective means of allowing those with low resources to convey information and are possible elements to influence others. The civil society organizations in Japan that can harness the power of these new channels have an opportunity to seize more influence, even with low resources. As an example, recent trends in demonstrations in Japan can be referred to. In the summer of 2015, the Japanese National Diet Building was besieged by massive demonstrations against the security legislation. This was led by a group of young activists called the SEALDs [25,26]. Their political claims and plans for demonstrations were spread through social media, and many actually gathered in front of the parliament. A similar phenomenon was also seen during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution [27]. In this way, movements to gain public opinion through the effective use of social media on social issues with high news value is emerging across borders. As Dahlgren calls it, this is an active “approach” to society through civil society organizations, and social media is being utilized as a tool for its activities. However, this is a trend in the use of social media by individual members of civil society organizations. Therefore, we need to refer to the results of our JIGS survey to further understand information behavior and use of social media in civil society organizations.
Through our analysis results of the 2017 JIGS survey data, we can observe that organizations that use social media were relatively few. This may be due to the sampling or response rate, however, in comparison to websites, civil society organizations are still struggling to initiate using social network services and other social media. We were also able to observe that among the few civil society organizations that use social media, we have found that those organizations have a higher meta-cognition of efficacy in comparison to those that do not use social media. Civil society organizations that interact with citizens also were found to have a high tendency to use social media. Civil society organizations that use social media have a higher level of cognition of influence that is being exerted upon others. Although we will not go further to determine any causality, we can argue that political efficacy and political participation are mutually higher among the organizations that use social media. Okura and Kaigo’s study [28] illustrates how a Facebook community page is operated by a local government (the Tsukuba Civic Activities Cyber Square). Through the operations of social media, promotion opportunities can be increased through creating a large cyber presence even with limited resources. The results of usage of social media by civil society organizations were similar to the findings of social media usage by government agencies. This study also suggested that the use of social media among civil society organizations, as well as in government agencies, could have a significant effect on limited resources.
One evident factor to the low adoption rate of social media is due to the aging of leaders of civil society organizations in Japan. We returned to the dataset and retrieved the age groups of the leaders of the civil society organizations that responded to the survey. Over 90% of the leaders belonged to the age group of over 50 in both prefectures. Tokyo was 93.9% and Ibaraki was 92.8%. Those under 40 or less were less than 10% and we did not have a single organization that had a leader in the age group of 20 to 29 years old. There has been an absence of studies discussing the age of Japanese civil society leaders. On the other hand, there have been several studies on neighborhood associations with similar characteristics as nonprofit organizations in local communities. The results of surveys by various local and national governments often report that these leaders are in their 70s. Although the duration of the term of the chairman of the neighborhood association is often limited to one to two years, many organizations do not place a limit on the number of terms [29]. Therefore, it is possible that the same person has served as the chairman of the neighborhood association for many years in succession or by rotation of the same persons. A similar mechanism may also be responsible for the older leaders of the civil society organizations considered in this study.
As many other surveys related to media have indicated low social media adoption rates among the elder generation in Japan, we can suggest that the low adoption of social media may be due to the age of those that are leading civil society organizations. The JIGS survey has indicated how many civil society organizations have their own websites, but we can infer that perhaps that many of the organizations may not have active websites. About 75% of the organizations surveyed said they have their own websites. There is no doubt about the consequences of many organizations having a website, but it is not clear whether the websites are really active. For example, some organizations created web pages with very old formats that have not been updated. One possibility is that these websites of organizations are not used as a communication tool between the organization and its members, but rather having a purpose to explain about the organization’s features and also provide contact information of the organization. For organizations that have been around for a long time and have a relatively small turnover of members, this may mean that they don’t need to go through the trouble of getting information online. In this regard, it is necessary to clarify the purpose of each organization’s information activities, but this cannot be confirmed because the JIGS survey did not ask questions.
It may be necessary to further investigate whether or not civil society organizations are truly online or not. In any case, if there is any rejuvenation among these organizations, we can assume that the new leaders shall embrace social media and other readily available platforms.
In reviewing Table 3 again, we can observe that ministries and local governments were high on the list of information sources, and from Table 4, we can also observe that petitions, signature collecting campaigns, and public comments were common lobbying tactics among the respondents. In Japan, there is still a strong document base principle intact and all official information needs to be saved in document form. This bureaucratic characteristic may be another element that is delaying the transition of the civil society organizations that have strong ties with government agencies to go online. On the other hand, high efficacy levels were observed in cases where information was disseminated without using paper media, when “Forming alliances with foreign organizations” and “Demonstrations.” In this way, even in Japan, information behavior with high efficacy levels can be seen, even if it is not transmitted through traditional media. However, this may also be based on the “document” base principle often observed in Japan. For example, if you “Form alliances with foreign organizations” or “Demonstrations,” it will appear in the next day’s newspaper as an article and the evidence will remain. Forming alliances with other organizations in Japan and overseas are usually exchanged in the form of writing. From this point of view, such information activities may provide a better sense of security for Japanese civil society organizations. It is no wonder that an organization appreciates its influence if it is widely reported in the traditional media and through newspaper articles.
Still, civil society is dynamic, not static therefore we need to continue our analysis on the interactions among the various political actors in Japan. From Table 5 and Table 6, we also found that the age of the leader of the civil society organization to be an important element in determining social media usage. Leaders with an inclination to be politically neutral or conservative seemed to be less likely to use social media. On the other hand, organizations with memberships numbering over 500 seemed more likely to use social media as it is more efficient to share information in comparison to other traditional means. J-JIGS4 was held in 2017, and J-JIGS2 was held in 2007. Comparing these results, there was no significant change in the number of individual members registered with the organizations over the past 10 years (most of the organizations (80%) had less than 1000 members.). On the other hand, the number of members of business establishments and other organizations has changed over these 10 years. In J-JIGS2, the number of civil society organizations with more than 100 members was about 25%, but in J-JIGS4, it increased to about 60%. In other words, in the 10 years between 2007 and 2017, civil society organizations have shifted from the role of organizing individuals to the role of organizing groups. Therefore, it is necessary to exchange information with more people through member organizations. The use of social media may be effective in such situations.
In this way, social media allows for more rapid information sharing and therefore, larger organizations may allow for more active social media usage. Our analysis results indicate how the few organizations that use social media, are already seizing its power and experiencing higher levels of cognition of political efficacy and influence. An optimistic view of these few organizations, is that they will create a new path for civil society organizations in Japan, and provide a roadmap for overcoming the problems of human and financial resources. These few organizations can lead Japanese civil society into a new communication environment, where they have greater efficacy and more influence among the actors that need to create change for a better society. As for limitations, this study only focuses on information behavior in Japanese civil society organizations as of 2017 and confirmed the extent and context of social media use. Therefore, in future research, it is necessary to put more focus on differences in channels, such as what type of social media is used. Logistic regression analysis was also used to examine the characteristics of organizations using social media, but the variables were limited to those related to the internal structure of the organization. For future studies, we believe it would be beneficial to examine in more detail the factors that influence social media use in Japanese civil society organizations by conducting an analysis using a model that incorporates other necessary variables in reference to relevant research. Overall, although there are some limitations to this study, there have been few studies have been found to widely examine the actual state of information behavior among Japanese civil society organizations. Therefore, this study has potential in becoming a foundation in providing insight of the situation. In the future, similar and more elaborate methods should be used to further examine the effects of social media usage among civil society organization over time.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.K. and T.S.; Methodology, T.S.; Formal analysis, T.S.; Data curation, Y.T.; Writing—original draft preparation, M.K. and T.S.; Writing—review and editing, M.K.; Project administration, Y.T.; Funding acquisition, Y.T. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This study was generously supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 16H01996.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their comments. The authors would also like to thank the editors and staff for their support during the publication process.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Figure 1. Countries in which Japan Interest Group Study (JIGS) survey has been conducted (in grey).
Figure 1. Countries in which Japan Interest Group Study (JIGS) survey has been conducted (in grey).
Information 11 00118 g001
Figure 2. Correspondence analysis of the daily operations of civil society organizations and lobbying activities. Key for Figure 2 (A = Petition, B = Signature-collecting campaign, C = Public comments, D = Flyer distribution and poster posting, E = Expressing opinions through website, F = Expressing opinions through social media, G = Demonstrations, H = Collective bargaining, I = Provide information for media, J = Public opinions through traditional media, K = Expressing standpoint through press conference, L = Forming alliances with other organizations, M = Forming alliances with foreign organizations, N = Having nothing to do, 1 = Council, 2 = Make and send newsletter, 3 = Holding the website, 4 = Social media, 5 = Sharing new knowledge workshop, 6 = Symposium/Seminar, 7 = Special events such as festival, 8 = Collect and provide information, 9 = Provide the special knowledge and skill, 10 = Research/Investigations, 11 = Member inter-communication, 12 = Product and sell the manufactured goods, 13 = Workshops with an admission fee, 14 = Introduction of experts, 15 = Consultation/Counselling, 16 = Outsourcing of public facilities, and 17 = Operation and run the facilities).
Figure 2. Correspondence analysis of the daily operations of civil society organizations and lobbying activities. Key for Figure 2 (A = Petition, B = Signature-collecting campaign, C = Public comments, D = Flyer distribution and poster posting, E = Expressing opinions through website, F = Expressing opinions through social media, G = Demonstrations, H = Collective bargaining, I = Provide information for media, J = Public opinions through traditional media, K = Expressing standpoint through press conference, L = Forming alliances with other organizations, M = Forming alliances with foreign organizations, N = Having nothing to do, 1 = Council, 2 = Make and send newsletter, 3 = Holding the website, 4 = Social media, 5 = Sharing new knowledge workshop, 6 = Symposium/Seminar, 7 = Special events such as festival, 8 = Collect and provide information, 9 = Provide the special knowledge and skill, 10 = Research/Investigations, 11 = Member inter-communication, 12 = Product and sell the manufactured goods, 13 = Workshops with an admission fee, 14 = Introduction of experts, 15 = Consultation/Counselling, 16 = Outsourcing of public facilities, and 17 = Operation and run the facilities).
Information 11 00118 g002
Table 1. Description of previous JIGS in the past.
Table 1. Description of previous JIGS in the past.
Survey PeriodAreaPopulationSurvey MethodSampling SizeValid ResponseReturn Rate
Data SourceSize
J-JIGS11997Tokyo, IbarakiTelephone directory23,128Mail4247163538.5%
J-JIGS22006-2007NationwideTelephone directory91,101Mail91,10115,79117.3%
J-JIGS32012-2013Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Fukuoka, OkinawaTelephone directory33,340Mail16,746329619.7%
J-JIGS42017Tokyo, IbarakiTelephone directory9719Mail, Web4400130329.5%
Table 2. Percentage and count of types of activities that are conducted by civil society organization.
Table 2. Percentage and count of types of activities that are conducted by civil society organization.
NConductedNot Conductedχ2
%Efficacy Level%Efficacy Level
Council130394.51.365.51.28n.s.
Website130374.81.3825.21.29n.s.
Newsletter130366.11.3833.91.23**
Sharing new knowledge workshop130359.31.4540.71.23**
Member inter-communication130357.91.4042.11.31**
Collect and provide information130355.31.4344.71.27**
Symposium/Seminar130352.01.4748.01.24**
Provide the special knowledge and skill130337.61.4462.41.31n.s.
Research/Investigation130336.81.4863.21.29**
Special events130325.51.4474.51.33n.s.
Consultation/Counselling130324.71.5075.31.31**
Social Media130321.31.5278.71.31**
Introduction of experts130320.41.5179.61.32*
Workshops with an admission fee130315.41.5084.61.33n.s.
Product and sell the manufactured goods130314.31.4885.71.34n.s.
Operation and run the facilities13039.01.4691.01.35n.s.
Outsourcing of public facilities13035.11.7094.91.34*
n.s.: not significant, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.
Table 3. Sources of information for civil society organizations.
Table 3. Sources of information for civil society organizations.
NConductedNot Conductedχ2
%Efficacy Level%Efficacy Level
Ministries130342.11.4057.91.33n.s.
Their own members130332.91.3467.11.37n.s.
Affiliated organizations130332.31.4067.71.34n.s.
Local government130329.91.5270.11.29**
Cooperating organizations130327.61.3872.41.35n.s.
Specialty Paper/Industry Paper130322.11.2977.91.44n.s.
scholars/Experts130319.61.3980.41.35n.s.
Media stakeholders130313.81.3086.21.37n.s.
Private enterprises130310.81.1689.21.38*
Parliament members and party13036.01.7094.01.34**
Social media13035.01.3195.01.36n.s.
Local councilor13033.81.6486.21.35n.s.
Non profit organizations13032.81.1197.21.37n.s.
Neighborhood association13033.41.4396.61.36n.s.
n.s.: not significant, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.
Table 4. Methods of lobbying by civil society organizations and efficacy (meta-cognition of influence).
Table 4. Methods of lobbying by civil society organizations and efficacy (meta-cognition of influence).
NConductedNot Conductedχ2
%Efficacy Level%Efficacy Level
Petition130341.51.5658.51.24**
Signature-collecting campaign130323.31.5277.71.33**
Forming alliances with other organizations130317.61.6382.41.32**
Public comments130316.11.6483.91.33**
Flyer distribution and poster posting130311.41.5788.61.35n.s.
Collective bargaining130311.31.6588.71.34**
Expressing opinions through traditional media13039.61.5490.41.36n.s.
Provide information for media13038.41.5591.61.36*
Demonstrations13037.11.7992.91.34**
Expressing opinions through social media13035.01.5195.01.37n.s.
Expressing standpoint through press conference13034.11.6095.91.37n.s.
Forming alliances with foreign organizations13033.21.7195.81.37n.s.
Publishing opinions through traditional media13032.51.3797.51.38n.s.
Having nothing to do130338.11.1061.91.55**
n.s.: not significant, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.
Table 5. Social media usage and variables of internal structure of civil society organizations.
Table 5. Social media usage and variables of internal structure of civil society organizations.
UseNo Useχ2
N%N%
Leader’s genderMale24692.169894.1n.s.
Female217.9445.9
Leader’s age<50299.9364.3**
50–595017.111413.6
60–6910636.332639.0
≥7010736.636043.1
IdeologyLiberal8231.414719.7**
Neutral9536.431442.1
Conservative8432.228438.1
Political affiliatesGovernment party2811.413218.2n.s.
Opposition party114.5435.9
Both52.0182.5
Nothing20182.053272.4
Capital assets0 JPY4719.011216.4n.s.
1~999,999 JPY8534.325537.2
1,000,000~2,999,999 JPY3012.18512.4
3,000,000~4,999,999 JPY5020.213319.4
5,000,000~9,999,999 JPY166.5345.0
10,000,000~19,999,999 JPY83.2243.5
20,000,000 JPY or more124.8426.1
Membership0 people2510.610417.7n.s.
1~49 people4720.010417.7
** p < 0.01 * p < 0.05, n.s.: not significant.
Table 6. Logistic regression of internal structure of civil society organizations and social media usage.
Table 6. Logistic regression of internal structure of civil society organizations and social media usage.
Model 1Model 2
OR95%CIOR95%CI
Leader’s genderMale reference
Female 1.380.61–3.13
Leader’s age<50 reference
50–59 0.920.41–2.10
60–69 0.550.26–1.18
≥70 0.440.20–0.96
IdeologyLiberalreference reference
Neutral0.470.29–0.770.530.32–0.88
Conservative0.580.36–0.940.660.40–1.08
Political affiliatesGovernment partyreference reference
Opposition party1.150.44–3.050.930.34–2.58
Both0.720.18–2.810.760.19–3.09
Nothing1.450.86–2.441.540.90–2.62
Capital assets0 JPYreference reference
1~999,999 JPY1.080.63–1.871.160.66–2.02
1,000,000~2,999,999 JPY1.210.61–2.421.200.59–2.47
3,000,000~4,999,999 JPY1.110.59–2.091.200.62–2.29
5,000,000~9,999,999 JPY1.460.56–3.761.580.59–4.22
10,000,000~19,999,999 JPY0.690.17–2.730.770.19–3.12
20,000,000 JPY or more1.360.52–3.561.640.61–4.45
Membership0 peoplereference reference
1~49 people1.780.88–3.622.000.96–4.18
50~499 people1.660.86–3.191.870.93–3.73
500~4999 people2.311.19–4.492.591.29–5.19
5000 people or more2.261.04–4.942.331.04–5.26
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