• The Associated Press

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The number of Japanese suffering from mental illnesses, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease, topped 3 million for the first time in 2005, the government said Friday.

Approximately 3.028 million Japanese were diagnosed with mental illness, according to a report on people with disabilities issued annually by the Cabinet Office. Mental illness data, tabulated only periodically, were last featured in 2002.

2005 was the first year the number exceeded 3 million, Cabinet Office official Toshiaki Nagato said. Japan’s population in 2005 was 127 million.

The report does not explain why the numbers have increased, said Nagato, who helped put together the report.

But he said it probably reflected an increase in the number of mental health-care facilities and other treatment options that allow more sufferers to come forward and be counted.

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