A health ministry opinion survey has found some 35% of respondents have prejudiced or discriminatory attitudes toward former leprosy patients and their families.

"Knowledge about the issue of leprosy has not sufficiently spread in society," the ministry said in a report summing up the survey. "Prejudice and discrimination (against former patients and their families) still exist, so the situation is serious."

The online survey was conducted last December and received valid responses from 20,916 people. This was the first survey by the ministry asking participants whether they have prejudice or discriminatory attitudes against former leprosy patients and their families.