An increasing number of Japanese approve of stricter rules on traffic safety, including the use of seat belts and driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a government survey released Saturday.

Nearly 35 percent of the 2,149 people responding to the survey said the use of seat belts in back seats should be made mandatory. That percentage has gradually increased from 11 percent in 1987, when the question was first asked in the survey.

But asked whether they wear seat belts in the back seat, only 23 percent of people said they always or sometimes do, an increase of 2 percentage points since the previous survey in 1999, while 74 percent responded they never or rarely do so, down from 76 percent four years ago.

Drivers and front-seat passengers have been required to wear seat belts in Japan since 1985.

Officials said the results of the survey will be taken into consideration when the government re-examines seat-belt use to prevent deaths in road accidents, including possibly making seat belts mandatory for rear-seat passengers.

In terms of driving under the influence of alcohol, slightly more than half the respondents said the government should impose tighter controls on drunken drivers to prevent accidents.

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