Sixty-two percent of the population had access to public sewage facilities in fiscal 2000 through March, up 2 percent from the previous year, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said Monday.

Despite the rise, the figure remains much lower than in many other advanced countries, such as Holland at 98 percent, Britain at 96 percent, Germany at 92 percent and the United States at 71 percent, ministry officials said.

The penetration ratio remained at only 27 percent for municipalities with a population of less than 50,000, indicating there are wide gaps between major cities and small rural areas, the ministry said.

During fiscal 2000, sewage facilities became available for an additional 2.55 million people, bringing total access to 78.03 million.

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