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Nearly one in three young people who have never donated blood told a recent survey they are afraid the needle will hurt, the health ministry said Wednesday.

The survey was conducted on people age 16 to 29 in January and February via the Internet. The respondents broke down as 5,000 who have donated blood and 5,000 who have not, according to the ministry.

The number of blood donors in Japan is declining, registering a nearly 15 percent fall in the last 10 years, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. Marked declines of 45 percent were seen in the 16-19 age bracket and 35 percent among people in their 20s.

Of those who have not donated at blood banks, 29 percent cited the needle as a reason for not doing so, followed by 28 percent who said they feel uneasy about it in general, 23 percent who said they thought they were unfit to give and another 23 percent who said they were afraid.

Multiple replies were allowed in the survey.

“At this moment, it is difficult to eliminate needle pain, but we would like to consider measures that will encourage young people to donate blood,” a ministry official said.

One in four of those who have never donated blood said they did not know about the blood donation service.