Over 5 million suspected gambling addicts in Japan
A research team at the health and welfare ministry has found that more than 5 million Japanese may be addicted to gambling.
The team interviewed 4,153 men and women aged 20 or older across the country last year. The subjects were chosen at random. Researchers were looking for people who said they could not resist the temptation to gamble or became irritated when they tried to stop.
Based on the interview results, the researchers estimate that 5 million 360 thousand Japanese people, or about 5 percent of the adult population, could be addicted to gambling.
They estimate that number includes 4 million 380 thousand men, or 9 percent of the adult population. 980 thousand are estimated to be women, or 2 percent of all adults.
This is the first time a survey has revealed the number of suspected gambling addicts.
The research team says the proportion of suspected gambling addicts is much higher in Japan than in Europe or the United States, where less than 2 percent of the population meets the criteria.
They say easy access to pachinko parlors and race tracks in Japan may account for the higher figure.
The team says gambling addiction can ruin people's lives and damage their health, and that family members and friends should be prepared to offer assistance.