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A survey on gender equality conducted earlier this year showed that 48.3 percent of respondents do not support the stereotypical image of men as breadwinners and women as housewives, up from 26.9 percent in 1987, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Saturday.

The latest survey, conducted between January and February, showed that only 25 percent agreed with men and women adopting traditional roles, down from 43.1 percent in the March 1987 survey.

Although Japan lags behind other countries in terms of female participation in decision-making, the results of the survey indicate that Japanese people “have undoubtedly changed,” said a government official in charge of promoting gender equality.

However, the survey also suggests that Japan still favors men over women and that the discrimination may be worsening.

The previous survey, conducted in July 1995, showed that 75.6 percent believed Japanese society in general treated men better than women, while 44.4 percent said the country’s laws and conventions discriminated against women. The percentages increased to 76.7 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively, in the 2000 survey.

Many respondents said women’s human rights are not fully respected, with molestation on trains cited by 33.6 percent as an example.

The number of people who believe marriage or motherhood should not force women to abandon their careers is gradually increasing, with 23.4 percent supporting the idea in November 1992, 30.2 percent in July 1995 and 33.1 percent this year.

But 55.8 percent of respondents in the latest survey said women should stop working when they marry or become mothers and should try to find work again only after their children have grown up.

Researchers contacted 5,000 adults for the survey and received 3,378 responses.