TOKYO – The Japanese are a largely irreligious people, but many seek divine help when trouble strikes, according to the results of a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

The survey findings showed that 75 percent of respondents said they did not believe in organized religions, but more than half said they had prayed to a god or Buddha when in need.

In the survey, 23 percent said they did not believe in any religion.

The poll was conducted face-to-face at 250 locations nationwide on Aug. 6-7 and surveyed 3,000 people aged 20 or older, of whom 1,798, or 59.9 percent, responded.

Asked about whether they thought religion was important, 35 percent of respondents said yes, while 60 percent disagreed.

But 54 percent of those surveyed admitted to praying at times, 10 percent more than those who said they did not.

Even among the nonreligious respondents, 47 percent said they had asked for help from a god or Buddha.

Responding to a question about how often they visited shrines, temples or churches, 64 percent – the largest number of those polled – said they went once or twice a year, followed by those who went – once or twice a month at 14 percent. Although only a small number of respondents are frequent visitors, with 1 percent saying they go every day and 2 percent once or twice each week, a total of 81 percent of respondents visited a religious building at some time in the year.

The survey also found that 87 percent of respondents said they were comfortable with having Buddhist and Shinto altars in the same house.

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