An estimated 541,000 people aged between 15 and 39 in Japan avoid social contact and shut themselves in their homes, according to a government survey released Wednesday.

The figure compares with the previous Cabinet Office survey in 2010 that found an estimated 696,000 such people — known as hikikomori — across the country. Despite the decline, the latest survey does not give an overall picture of the full extent of the phenomenon as it did not include those aged 40 or older.

But the survey does highlight a trend in which people who have withdrawn from society have done so for longer periods, as those who have shut themselves in their homes for at least seven years accounted for about 35 percent of the total.