A majority of university students in Japan do not read books for pleasure, an annual survey by the National Federation of University Co-operative Associations showed Tuesday.

In the 2017 survey, 53.1 percent of the students said they do not read books, including electronic, at all, exceeding 50 percent for the first time since the federation started collecting such data in 2004.

“An increasing number of students have not developed the habit of reading by their university years. This had a significant impact on the survey results,” said Koji Hamajima, an associate professor at Doshisha University who analyzed the survey data.

The 53rd survey on the lifestyles of college students, conducted in October and November, covered 10,021 students at 30 public and private universities.

The number of students who said they do not read at all for pleasure rose 4 percentage points from the previous year and was up 18.6 points over the past five years.

A total of 48.6 percent of students majoring in humanities said they do not read. The share of students with no reading habit stood at 54.5 percent in science fields and 62.6 percent in medical, dental and pharmaceutical fields.

The average daily reading time of students dropped 0.8 minute to 23.6 minutes, falling for the third straight year.

Of those with part-time jobs, 54.5 said they do not read, exceeding 49.4 percent of students who are not working.

On how much money students spend on books per month, the average amount of those living in their parents’ home stood at ¥1,340, while the figure was ¥1,510 for those living away from their parents, both the lowest since 1970.

The survey also found that students use smartphones for nearly three hours a day on average, up 15.8 minutes.

“No strong direct correlation was observed between the declining reading hours and the use of smartphones,” Hamajima said, noting that students who read a lot also tend to use smartphones a lot.

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