TOKYO - An estimated 5.36 million people across Japan are pathological gamblers, addicted to such activities as pachinko games, according to a Health Ministry survey.
The figure accounts for 4.8 per cent of all adults.
"The percentage is higher than in other countries, where it's about 1 per cent.
"This is probably because anybody can easily play pachisuro slot machine games anywhere in the nation," said Mr Susumu Higuchi, director of the National Hospital Organisation Kurihama Medical and Addiction Centre.
Mr Higuchi led the survey, which was conducted in July last year by visiting adults selected at random. A total of 4,153 people - or 58.9 per cent of those visited - responded.
In line with international criteria, 20 questions were asked, including: "Have you ever wished to stop gambling even though you knew you could not?" and "Have you ever hidden your gambling habit from family members, such as a spouse?"
Another question was: "Have you felt guilty about gambling?"
If respondents answered "yes" to five or more of these questions, they were classified as a pathological gambler.
The number of pathological gamblers stood at 8.7 per cent of all adult men, or an estimated 4.38 million, and 1.8 per cent of all female adults, or an estimated 980,000.
YOMIURI/ASIA NEWS NETWORK