national

Debate on relaxing mask requirement starting in Japan

69 Comments
By Wakako Jo

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

69 Comments
Login to comment

There are no mask requirements in Japan. The implementation would be impossible from a legal perspective.

Wearing a mask has always been optional. And since there has never been a legal requirement to wear a mask, it is misleading to talk about relaxing a requirement that never existed.

38 ( +46 / -8 )

Masks should come off, especially for children. The over-masking is a mental disease.

36 ( +58 / -22 )

I am consistently amazed at the infatuation with masks. People have no problem sitting in a packed restaurant for an hour or more without a mask and then put on their mask to walk outside down the sidewalk. Wear one if you want to but I will gladly light mine on fire in the near future.

30 ( +46 / -16 )

This pandemic has absolutely broken many people. Destroyed them.

They are afraid to step outside without the security blanket useless masks have become. And now the thought that they will be surrounded by well-adjusted people not wearing them will send them into hysteria.

25 ( +50 / -25 )

Just use common sense? On a crowded train or bus...mask, in the supermarket.... pop on a mask. Walking out side...maybe no mask, driving alone in your car...????

The problem in Japan is that common sense always loses to the fear of what other people think you.

24 ( +30 / -6 )

How about relaxing the border?

21 ( +32 / -11 )

stop with the spoon feeding and do as you please. otherwise, it can often feel like a bunch of stiffs overseeing a nation of babies.

17 ( +37 / -20 )

No need to wear your mask on the beach, parks, skiing or snowboarding, cycling, jogging or any other outdoor activities.

Was walking around the Tama river today and it was so good to see many folks not wearing them either.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Make it a choice. After all my body my choice.

15 ( +45 / -30 )

Just finished 2 weeks in the UK and the difference between the UK and Japan is huge. In the UK Covid is now regarded as endemic rather than an epidemic, so just part of life, like the common cold. I got Covid whilst I was in the UK and it was milder than a cold - no fever or cough, just a bit sneezy and a croaky throat for a couple of days. I am now in Thailand where I failed a PCR test so can’t fly back to Japan. No idea where I will be allowed to go home. Apparently you can fail a PCR test weeks, even months after having Covid….

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Mask, social distancing, using the provided hand dispensers, will not guarantee prevention of contracting Covid-19.

It offers a fighting chance.

13 ( +30 / -17 )

I’ve been waiting for the Japanese to start this debate.

Take them off the kids at least.

11 ( +20 / -9 )

Mandatory mask wearing was dropped in Australia a month ago case numbers have not increased. A small percentage of people are still wearing them by choice.

10 ( +17 / -7 )

Take them off the kids at least.

I think kids are the ones leading the charge. My daughter at the park today handed me her mask and told her friends to ditch the masks as they were gasping for air while jumping on the trampoline.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

@ Steven.

Actually, I probably wouldn't encourage it, I just phrased it like that to be emphatic. My point is that the masks are not going to be effective over a longer period of time at preventing you from getting infected.

We are not going to stop this virus - the latest variants are as transmissible as anything we know - as much as measles. We don't have vaccines that give sufficient protection against transmission - they help a bit, for a couple of months at best and thats about it.

Assuming that you are almost certainly going to get it at some point, answer me this: would you rather get it now while your vaccine is still giving you excellent protection against severe disease, or would you rather continue masking up, social distancing etc and maybe hold it off for a few more months by which point your vaccine will probably be offering you less protection?

You keep saying this is the most deadly variant ever in Japan. Yes, it has killed more people, but as many people have pointed out to you on many occasions, if you actually look at your chances of dying if you actually get the virus, this variant is the least deadly. It has only killed more people because it has infected way more people. Saying it is more deadly is something like saying more people die each year falling off ladders than they do climbing mount Everest, therefore climbing ladders is more deadly than climbing mount Everest. It's just ridiculous, no scientist agrees with you and everyone with an ounce of common sense can see it.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

@ Steven Mccarthy

You WILL be infected with COVID sooner or later even if you go about in a hazmat suit. Booooo

8 ( +17 / -9 )

In a couple of years we will be reading how extreme fear and restrictions associated with COVID have had lasting implications for kids and younger people. You will hear terms like "social anxiety", "extreme shyness" and "agoraphobia" being used. Yeah COVID is bad but so is isolation and pause in social development and worse of all the anxiety of living in constant fear of catching something (there is a term for it: germophobia). Japan was already one of the most socially awkward societies (Hikkomoti anyone?) sadly you'll be faced with new generation of anxious, fearful and isolationist kids who will be your future politicians...

7 ( +27 / -20 )

Masks have not reduced incidence rates in Japan. The incredibly low level of testing and the high stigma associated with Covid infection have ensured that the actual number of cases are higher by orders of magnitude.

As an example: Denmark had daily absolute rates of Covid equal to Japan's daily rate. Some people draw the conclusion given the 20x difference in population that Denmark's rates were much much higher per 100,000. However Japan's equivalent 20x less rate of testing and much higher stigma means Japan's rates of covid were and are the same as the rest of the world if not even higher.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

then there are plenty of planes out of here.

Yes, ghosh forbid an uppity tax-paying gaijin supporting a Japanese family should presume to have any stake in this country and try to improve it.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

Following the political science.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It's about time.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I am a PhD in computational geophysics and I know a hell a lot about fluid mechanics and particles dynamics. Wearing a mask outside do not make any sense and never did. 

Unfortunately it stopped being about science and logic very quickly and devolved into media-driven paranoia. Most people still afraid can't tell you what proportion of people infected die from it, what their own risk profile is or what percent of their own population died from it without having any other medical problems.

We are living in the hypochondriacs' delusion

5 ( +15 / -10 )

Japan was always a mask wearing country.

It actually is getting on quite annoying getting the evil eye for not wearing a mask even outdoors.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Simon

sadly you'll be faced with new generation of anxious, fearful and isolationist kids who will be your future politicians...

You say that like the current crop in the LDP are NOT fearful and isolationist. They're so behind the times in their Covid response compared to the rest of the world it's not funny.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

it is a small price to pay for living in a society.

Actually for me and I suppose many others, the mask greatly reduces my QOL and desire to go out if I have to wear one. I also feel it can trigger anxiety in crowded places.

4 ( +19 / -15 )

The thing is that the wearing of masks in Japan has never been a mandate or rule. It's simply suggestion but due to their fear of standing out, everybody donned a mask and now nobody wants to be the first one to take them off. Wear a mask on public transport and in indoor places that are crowded and a tight squeeze but outside when you're walking around? Nah.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

There was never a law saying it was mandatory. Just sheep following the other sheep. Indoors and in crowds it makes sense. Outdoors there is no reason nor benefit to keep wearing these things. Except in a society that can't make decisions for itself that is.

3 ( +24 / -21 )

In California, USA, "Masks are no longer required indoors, with a few exceptions . . . but they are still strongly recommended"

https://covid19.ca.gov/masks-and-ppe/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwpcOTBhCZARIsAEAYLuUucAuAIskz1W1Zqd_j1dffvX8kMxcMPP8PYDnZj0msL8U7tB6K-vMaAi5jEALw_wcB

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And how many oyaji and yankii were loitering around with nothing but chin warmers on?

Worse, I've seen them take them off indoors, sneeze, then put it back on. Why bother?!?!?

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Drop the masks!

2 ( +16 / -14 )

This is a warning on the box of the best mask in the world, the N95.

WARNING: This respirator helps protect against certain particulate contaminants but does not eliminate exposure to or the risk of contracting any disease or infection. Misuse may result in sickness or death. For proper use, see supervisor, or User Instructions.

Medical practitioners know masks must be thrown away after 20 minutes. And people use their masks for a day and for some still reuse them.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

We've always wore masks here , not sure what the issue is ....wear one dont wear one no one cares, apart from the rabid anti maskers ....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Most masks in Japan are non compliant and I see fakes being sold cheaply everywhere.

People also pull them down to sneeze and cough, I also see people sneezing into their hands frequently, rather into the joint of the elbow.

No one wears them in izakaya’s or bars after a long days work, wearing them outside if you’re misreading then two metres away from someone else is next to useless, I see little 2 metre social distancing.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

What was the CDC's guidance for mask wearing prior to 2019? Back then, it was based on science. Now, it's paranoid/dystopia nonsense.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

In Japan it's better to wear a good mask (or two) when walking outside to help keep the particulates from Hino truck and bus engines out of your lungs.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If you around more than 50 people. Yes. Public transport. Yes. Outside walking, on the beach etc not near anyone. Not necessary. It's all about common sense and assessing the risk factor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I keep my mask on outside because I can't be bothered to get it out and put it on when I get to my destination. Plus everyone seems to wear it outside. But I am getting tired of this. I still wash my hands with soap - something which should be done regardless of the pandemic. I roll my eyes when I see people coming out of the toilet cubicles at stations and at the gym and walking away without washing their hands. Disgusting, especially after doing number two.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

@ Steven.

Not saying that masks don't help to prevent transmission to an extent - I'm sure they do, although with these latest super transmissible variants, probably less so.

Let's suppose that your mask reduces transmission by 30% - in the case of an endemic virus, that doesn't mean your chances of getting it will be 30% less, it just means that instead of getting it within the next 6 months, you'll get it within the next 9 months instead.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

“COVID 19 virus particle size is 125 nanometers (0.125 microns); the range is 0.06 microns to .14 microns. The N95 mask filters down to 0.3 microns. So, N95 masks block few, if any, virions (virus particles).”

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is a piece of information about wearing masks. The info is from CDC, U.S.. The part of it is outlined below:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends masks for the general public. If you're in an area with a high number of people with COVID-19 in the hospital and new COVID-19 cases, the CDC recommends wearing a well-fitted mask indoors in public, whether or not you're vaccinated.

The CDC says that you should wear the most protective mask possible that you'll wear regularly, fits well and is comfortable. Respirators such as nonsurgical N95s give the most protection. KN95s and medical masks provide the next highest level of protection. Cloth masks provide less protection. The CDC says that surgical N95 masks should be reserved for health care providers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

†he masks are much more beneficial in letting the Japanese stay quasi-anonymous than in preventing Covid infections outside.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A friend of mine is faculty at a university in South Korea. She recently attended an academic conference in Washington D.C. where most people are not wearing masks. She wore hers. After her 15-hr flight back to Incheon, she tested positive for COVID. She suspects she contracted it while riding on the Metro where no one was wearing a mask. She managed to endure two years of the pandemic in South Korea without contracting COVID but contracts it while riding on a train. Even if you wear a mask, your risk of contracting COVID is higher when the people around you are not wearing masks. Fortunately she is fully vaccinated so she only experienced a loss in smell and has since recovered after quarantining at home. According to the KCDC, she was patient 0 of the BA.2 variant of Omicron.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Pretty please, the most important aspect when you have caught Covid-19 is to listen to the doctors and follow there advice, at least that is the experience here in Kochi.

There is no compulsion just simply a common sense approach and local support from friend and neighbours.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

At a press conference on April 27, Nakagawa repeated his view that people should continue to wear masks as long as the fear of infection from COVID-19 remains.

Given all the fear mongering in Japan over this, it might take 10 years to open up the country, let alone reducing or eliminating useless mask wearing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Unfortunately I need to keep my job so I quite reluctantly wear a mask at my job and even at that I intentionally take it off from time to time to signal to others that it's ok. In saying that, I never wear a mask anywhere else, even on the trains.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The trouble here is people don't do research or thinking, If that is what the government and NHK says to do, we must do it. I think this must goo back to feudal times. We call it, not thinking outside the box or wearing blinders. but as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No debate- just stop.

It's of no use at all to wear a mask.

It prevents nothing but proper breathing.

Any source for this? because the experts say exactly the opposite (valuable at preventing contagion, not a problem for "proper breathing") and they show the data to prove it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I do like a social drink, friends and colleges at our favorite Izakaya, masks are discarded, not going to attempt a gin and tonic with a mask on. Or try to vacuum mouthfuls of ramen under a mask.

Your guard drops and boom.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

This is the most misleading headline I’ve read about Covid to date .

”Debate on relaxing mask requirement starting in Japan“

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Covid-19 is a leveler, isolation plus a focus on life-style is hammered home at hospital.

I can't say I can realistically get my head on the right way up. But I can at least try.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

What’s the difference?

Even DURING peak corona, how many “jackass joggers” were running on crowded sidewalks without masks?

And how many oyaji and yankii were loitering around with nothing but chin warmers on?

they’ve been doing it without properly wearing their masks since day 1.

might as well go back to pre 2020 times and lose the daily masks. Stick to only times of being sick.

-3 ( +15 / -18 )

People saying there has never been a legal mandate to wear masks are correct but it is a fairly meaningless point. The social taboo if not joining the group and masking up was sufficiently strong for it to be roughly equal to legally mandating. So, it was socially mandated. In practice, in a country like Japan, equally prohibitive.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

Masks had their place in the earlier stages of the pandemic, but with the more transmissible variants, most people vaccinated, lower virulence and so on, I think that they are not much use anymore. We have been seeing around 50,000 cases per day for the past two or three months now - that's just people that tested positive. We know that about 90% of cases only lead to mild cold or flu like symptoms or are asymptomatic - many people with such symptoms will simply believe they have a cold, and even if they suspect COVID, won't bother getting tested because of the hassle of having to isolate and tell all their close contacts. Also, many doctors won't test for COVID unless you have the classic symptoms of the earlier strains, which are different to the symptoms of the later strains. For these reasons, I believe that the likely number of actual infections is very likely to be ten times the number actually testing positive. Half a million cases per day. We've probably had about 20% of the population already had it this year alone - in line with figures coming out of the US and UK. With so many people probably having had the virus and so few having actually bothered to get tested, we are likely dramatically overestimating the threat from this virus. Just let it spread - go out and catch it already - get it done and over with - get it now while your vaccine is still offering you excellent protection against serious disease. Why wait until that protection has worn off? The boosters become less effective each time so you are only going to get a few chances. As much as 20% of the population infected in 2 or 3 months, do you seriously believe that you wont be exposed over the next year, two years, five years, 10 years or more that COVID is going to be around? COVID isn't going anywhere.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Kyushubill

It's your body for sure but if you don't like the laws and moral codes of Japan , that may infringe your ' rights' , then there are plenty of planes out of here.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

No debate- just stop.

It's of no use at all to wear a mask.

It prevents nothing but proper breathing.

Take them off and smile, you're alive.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Look really I don’t want to show off. But I am a PhD in computational geophysics and I know a hell a lot about fluid mechanics and particles dynamics. Wearing a mask outside do not make any sense and never did. Regardless of social distancing, the risk of contamination by aerosols for most situations in an open system is extremely small (for many reasons but looking at the advection-diffusion equation is already sufficient to draw a strong conclusion).

The risk of contamination by ballistic traveling particles have also been shown no to be the main route of contamination. Those so-called experts are not experts. Not only they are not physicists but they are doing ideology and culte driven decisions.

On top of that and beyond the mask effectiveness question since it’s been often removed indoors during social interactions and situations where the contamination is the highest; it’s has been ridiculous to force such a constraining measure to the younger population (in fact anyone under 60 or 50 years old if you want to be conservative) with a virus who has essentially no consequences on them. The entire situation is grotesque.

I am not wearing a mask whatsoever anymore. I have never done so outside. Now inside too. Enough is enough.

-5 ( +31 / -36 )

Disgusting, especially after doing number two.

Well said. And keep in mind coronavirus can be transmitted via flecks of fecal matter.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Just handle it by logic. Amongst other people it’s a showing of good manner, but if you wear the masks longer than ‘necessary’, you keep the own coronaviruses in your body and concentrate them also in the mask so that you have or will be exposed to an increased risk of getting even more infected or severely sick. Make a case by case choice between you and other people.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Thank you for your optimism Simon ! I work at a kindergarten with 420 kindergarteners, 78…. 0-2 yr olds . 64 gakadou students coming from 14 different elementary schools, and 14 other students from 13-38 yrs old . I literally have thousands of chances everyday. And I’ve never missed a day of work due to Covid anything. I personally never wear a mask outside. And I always …. Winter or summer keep every door and window in the English room wide open. Guess I’ve been fortunate so far . I do all I can as an individual can do to help mitigate the spread of Covid. For all the whining people do about the jgov The 3 “C’s” have been great scientific recommendations as well as the Covid guidance brochures any foreigner can get from their local International Assn.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

They are afraid to step outside without the security blanket useless masks have become

Masks have a demonstrated value preventing infections, and being rationally careful is what has made Japan avoid the worst of the pandemic until now, just baselessly claiming the opposite has no weight.

Make it a choice. After all my body my choice.

In Japan it has always been a choice, that most of the population is responsible enough to take the best choice against the pandemic is very different from anybody forcing you to wear a mask.

stop with the spoon feeding and do as you please.

Because that had such a good result in other countries? This is terrible advice, relaxing the measures according to the reduction of risk is valid, just acting as if there is no risk for personal convenience is not.

In a couple of years we will be reading how extreme fear and restrictions associated with COVID have had lasting implications for kids and younger people

You talk as if letting everybody getting infected and swamping the health system until deaths also accumulate from unrelated diseases had no implications for everybody including kids and younger people. Nobody has said that the measures against covid are a free ride, just that they are better than doing nothing, including anxiety and other problems in the future.

-9 ( +18 / -27 )

If one catches Covid-19, life changes, there is the prospect of isolation, and the continued mental health consequences.

The personal failure to take the necessary personal measures of prevention.

Is right in your face.

And the fact that such further contact with your family especially if that action could threaten the health and wellbeing of elderly family members is stressful beyond belief.

You have to sit back and stand still.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Such great news coming from Nihon these days :)

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

Masks are not only about coronavirus, it's great for not spreading colds, flu, great for allergies too. It has its good points

-15 ( +34 / -49 )

@kyushubill

'...my body my choice.'

LOL.

3 years on and you haven't quite grasped the basics of what we're collectively (or so I'd like to think) dealing with here.

-16 ( +20 / -36 )

You are NOT serious …. Right ?

”get it done and over with - get it now while your vaccine is still offering you excellent protection against serious disease.”

Specific and only to Japan, you’re advocating, recommending, suggesting, advising, or hinting that people should go out for the purpose of being infected with the deadliest variant of Covid in Japan to date? Even with the number of deaths falling in April, the 1st 4 months of this year have been the deadliest of the next 4 top months since the beginning. It is your kind of mindset and that of the anti everything minority thst won’t help mitigate the spread of Covid that is precisely the problem. The strain that’s been on the healthcare system this year where at times became unmanageable. 555 people died at home Jan-Mar because they were refused admission to the hospital where they belonged. People whining about restrictions we’ve never had…. On and on about strict border controls when domestically…. Foreigners won’t even follow the most basic requests.

-18 ( +6 / -24 )

There is no recovering from dead . Your chances of dying from Covid …. Specifically the Omicron variant in Japan are higher than any other variant. And that’s with 80% of the population vaccinated. By degree, I am a CCRN. I’ve worn them in the hospital for years. So as much as I hate wearing a mask , we were taught the safety of them in dealing with the ill and contagious diseases. My 1st trip ever to Japan was to Kyoto, 8/98. I was shocked at how many people on the plane were wearing masks then. Landing at Kansai I was even more shocked. It was rare to see anyone without a mask . There was no virus raging out of control. The Japanese have always been a mask wearing society. But here we are current date …. I’d rather not be infected with Covid…. For my own health…. Those around me …. And to not be a burden on the healthcare system.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

Debate is emerging in Japan over how much longer people should wear masks to combat the coronavirus.

Masks are annoying and look stupid and are probably used inappropriately in Japan.

That being said if they can reduce infection and harm in some situations it is a small price to pay for living in a society.

-19 ( +10 / -29 )

Wear a mask, socially distance, use the provided hand dispensers.

The mental stress and sleepless nights, when diagnosed with Covid-19, worrying about the consequences to one elderly neighbours and relatives brings the dangers right to ones front door.

-22 ( +16 / -38 )

No way. Mask must be on.

-50 ( +19 / -69 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites