Researching Agricultural Policy in Japan Using Qualitative Interviews

Document Type



case study research; qualitative interviewing; policy research

Identifier Data




Publication Source

SAGE Research Methods Cases in Political Science and International Relations


The research project upon which this case study is based examined agricultural policy in Japan using the qualitative method of interviewing. Interviews were conducted in the field in Japan, where the author has conducted previous research and has lived. This case discusses the qualitative interviewing methodology, including ethical considerations and on-the-ground practicalities of doing interviews in a foreign language. Understanding the local language and customs was an important aspect of this case study, when interviewing participants often used different words reflecting local dialects and it was necessary to build rapport to get in-depth responses. The project included extensive travel across Japan to meet with farmers, members of cooperatives, and leaders of consumer organizations to interview them. Advance planning was key in getting access to the people necessary to study the proposed research question, identify potential respondents, and contact them to set up interviews. This case study discusses the use of qualitative interviews to gather primary material for a research project that examined agricultural policies and their outcomes with non-profit organizations, citizens groups, and government officials.