National

Over two-thirds of Japanese people say they read fewer books, blaming work and smartphones, government survey shows

JIJI

Some 67.3 percent of Japanese say they are reading fewer books, with about a third of such people attributing the decline to time spent on devices such as smartphones, according to a Cultural Affairs Agency survey.

The agency’s annual opinion survey on the Japanese language sought responses on reading for the first time in five years.

The proportion of people who read fewer books rose 2.2 percentage points from fiscal 2013, when 65.1 percent of respondents gave the same answer. In the survey for fiscal 2008, 64.6 percent said that their time spent reading had decreased.

The share of people who are reading less was particularly high among women in their 20s and 40s.

Regarding reasons behind the trend, 49.4 percent of respondents said that they were too busy with work or school — the most popular answer. This was followed by health reasons, including issues with eyesight, at 37.2 percent, and time spent on electronic devices, at 36.5 percent.

The proportion of respondents that cite the use of smartphones and other such devices as the reason for their drop in reading has climbed by over 10 points in each survey since fiscal 2008, when it was 14.8 percent. In fiscal 2013 it was 26.3 percent.

“People communicate through such devices using numerous words, so we cannot say with certainty that their language skills will deteriorate,” the agency said.

The percentage of people who read less than one book a month stood at 47.3 percent, remaining virtually unchanged from the previous two surveys.

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