Five percent of Japanese thought to have gambling problem

    About 5 million Japanese, or 5 percent of the adult population, may be addicted to gambling, according to a study released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
    The figure is higher than in most other countries, where it is around 1 percent, local media cited the study as saying, adding it’s the first time such a statistic has been released in Japan.
    The Japanese parliament is set to reconvene this Fall to pass legislation legalizing casinos in the country for the first time. Gambling is currently illegal though pachinko parlors, which feature electronic games similar to pinball machines for non-cash prizes, are highly popular.
    Research team leader Susumu Higuchi, director of the National Hospital Organization Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center, said there needs to be a discussion about the introduction of casinos, saying: “There are definitely negative aspects of gambling.”
    The team interviewed 4,153 adults nationwide chosen on a random basis, and conducted research on gambling and Internet addiction based on international standards, the reports said.
    According to the research, 4.38 million men, accounting for 8.7 percent, and 980,000 women, or 1.8 percent, are suspected to suffer from gambling problems, totaling 5.36 million people or 4.8 percent of the adult population in the country.