Foreigners in Japan should not expect to have the same human rights protections here as Japanese, 21.8 percent of respondents in a fiscal 2002 survey said.

It was the highest figure since 1988, when the government first included the question in its human rights survey.

The fiscal 2002 report on domestic human rights conditions, which polled 2,059 Japanese respondents aged 20 or older nationwide, was released Tuesday and will be submitted to the current Diet session. It was jointly compiled by the Justice and education ministries.

In the previous survey, conducted in 1997, the figure was 18.5 percent. The margin of error in that survey was 2.15 percent, and is 2.2 percent in the latest survey.

Fifty-four percent of respondents in the 2002 survey said foreigners’ rights should be equally protected, down 11.5 points from the 1997 survey and the lowest figure ever.

Some 30.4 percent said the disadvantages faced by foreigners in Japan constituted clear discrimination, down from 39.9 percent in the 1997 survey.

But 28.3 percent said it cannot be helped, citing cultural differences and the economic gap between Japan and other countries.

Almost 20 percent said problems are inevitable until foreigners get used to Japanese society, while 3.3 percent said foreigners deserve to be at a disadvantage simply because they are foreign.

The report says public sentiment probably reflected rampant media reports in recent years of crimes allegedly committed by foreigners.

Asked about overall human rights conditions in Japan, 80 percent of respondents said they were aware their fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, while 36.2 percent said human rights violations have been increasing in recent years.

A total 86.1 percent said their rights had never been infringed upon, and 76.7 percent said people are troubling others by making a stand for their basic rights.

When asked whose human rights conditions they are highly concerned about, 44.6 percent of respondents said the disabled, 35.2 percent said the elderly and 30.8 percent said children. Foreigners ranked ninth among the 12 groups listed in the survey, at 14.3 percent.

In the report, the ministries said they would continue campaigns to eradicate discrimination against specific social groups, including the disabled, Hansen’s disease patients, foreigners and people who have tested positive for HIV. Prisoners, the homeless and sexual minorities such as homosexuals and bisexuals were newly added to the list.

After Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa said the government will continue to make educational and other efforts to raise public awareness of human rights.

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