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Nearly 50 percent of Japanese responding to a government survey said they are opposed to imported wild animals, such as raccoon and iguanas, being kept as pets.

According to the Cabinet Office survey, 49.7 percent of people believe exotic animals should not be kept as pets, citing concerns about illnesses and the impact on native flora and fauna.

The survey was conducted on 3,000 people aged 20 and older across the country between June 26 and July 6. The response rate was 73.4 percent.

Of the respondents, just 13.7 percent said keeping foreign animals should be the responsibility of an individual, while 29.4 percent said restrictions should be introduced on which kinds of animals are suitable as pets.

The numbers were roughly the same as those in a similar survey conducted in 2000, and show that many people are still wary about wild animals living with humans.

Of those who believe that wild animals should not be kept as pets, 59.9 percent said the animals can harm people and damage farm crops. The number was up 7.3 percentage points from the previous survey three years ago.

Just over 46 percent, the second-largest proportion of reasons cited in the multiple-response question, said the animals risk introducing new diseases from abroad. The figure was up 11.9 points from the previous survey.

A total of 40.6 percent, up 8.2 points, said the animals have a negative effect on the native flora and fauna, while 54.1 percent, down 3.1 points, said wild animals are best left in their natural habitat.