Japan's average household income has topped $40,000 a year, but nearly half of all households report difficulties in making ends meet, according to a survey released this week.

The nationwide survey conducted by the Health and Welfare Ministry showed the average income of Japanese households was $40,400 in 1986.The figure was 2.5 percent higher than the previous year, but was the lowest increase since the first such survey was conducted in 1962.

The survey, conducted last summer, says there are 38.06 million households in Japan, with an average 3.19 persons per household.

Of the total households, 3.47 million were composed of people 65 years or older, up 4.5 percent.

Asked about living standards, 52.4 percent said they were living an "average" life, up from 49.7 percent the previous year.

Some 43 percent of households of people 65 or older are totally dependent on annuities or pensions.

Results of the survey are used in planning the government's future welfare policy.