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The number of students absent from elementary and junior high schools for a prolonged period during fiscal 2000 increased by about 4,000, or 3.1 percent, from fiscal 1999, to hit a record 134,282, the education ministry said Friday.

A survey conducted by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry identified students who had been absent from school for more than 30 days. Those absent due to sickness or financial difficulties were not included.

Junior high schools had a higher percentage of such absentees, the survey shows, with one in 38 junior high school students absent for more than 30 days.

About 26,000 elementary school students were absent for similar periods, up 1.2 percent from the previous fiscal year.

The number of similar absentees in junior high schools was about 108,000, up 3.6 percent from fiscal 1999, the ministry said.

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