Those in favor of constructing new highways in Japan were outnumbered for the first time by those who believe it unnecessary, according to a government survey released Saturday.

The survey, conducted in January by the Cabinet Office on 3,000 adults, found that 46.6 percent of respondents saw no need to build new highways, up 16.2 percentage points from the previous poll in 1995.

The percentage of respondents who said further highway construction is needed was 36.8 percent, down 8.8 points. The response rate was 71.8 percent.

Asked to name the most important consideration in road construction, 40.1 percent, the largest portion, cited the need for advance assessment of the necessity and economic benefits.

Only 38.4 percent called for speeding up construction and maintenance of roads.

Asked what is needed in road construction from the viewpoint of pedestrians, 68.5 percent said the elimination of steps along pedestrian ways, while 47.5 percent indicated the need to make sidewalks wide enough for people in wheelchairs.

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