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Masks stay on in Japan as 3-year request to wear them ends

73 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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73 Comments

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wearing a mask is not mandatory since the beginning.

22 ( +51 / -29 )

I worked in a kindergarten this morning.

Had to have a temperature check and wear a mask.

Quite annoying really but completely unsurprising.

18 ( +33 / -15 )

Well, it is what it is. Thankfully people here wont go crazy about those who choose to continue to wear them.

It's now totally a personal choice, with the exception of where I work, where the "guidelines" are until the end of March. lol!

14 ( +28 / -14 )

A conditioned society, one of the major reasons there is a huge lack of entrepreneurship and why the economy has been declining for 30 years. Instead of being taught to think outside the box, many people are taught to think within the framework of how things have traditionally been done. That can work to an extent but it's a major reason why Japan still relies on western allies for so many things.

6 ( +50 / -44 )

Guess they did not got the memo... 99% were masked, I was the 1% (baka gaijin I guess...)

14 ( +36 / -22 )

 Thankfully people here wont go crazy about those who choose to continue to wear them.

And thankfully the same about people who decide to not wear them anymore...

9 ( +22 / -13 )

I wasn't expecting a great unmasking among the Japanese public today, but I was half expecting that at least a few people would be going maskless from now. Pretty much as soon as I walked out of my door today, it was obvious that was not the case - people walking alone in a wide open street still completely masked up. There was absolutely no difference today whatsoever - as usual pretty much 100% of people everywhere, on the trains or out in the open street, continue to wear masks.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was happy to live in a country where wearing a mask was not a political statement - people just got on with it - if it worked, then great, if it didn't then no great loss.

But at this stage, when pretty much everywhere else got rid of masks months ago and nothing changed, at a point where I believe most Japanese would like to take off their masks but they won't because they are terrified of what other people might think of them, the more I see people continuing with this mass, mask wearing virtue signalling, the less respect I have for them.

7 ( +41 / -34 )

People should do what they feel is right. There is enough gear in the tool box (vaccines etc) to handle the pandemic. Just don't dress up your decisions with misinformation and cherry-picked half-truths. If you are doing the right thing, then there is no need to be deceitful.

-9 ( +15 / -24 )

At least there's one thinker in the photo at the top.

I was out this for a walk this morning and it's as if nothing had changed. About 95% of the people I saw were wearing mask. So,

a. did nobody get the message?

b. are they just ignoring it?

c. are they too scared to be the first one in their social group to go maskless?

d. are they so conditioned now that mask wearing is automatic, like putting on underwear?

I hope it's a, but it's more likely to be a combination of b, c and d.

11 ( +29 / -18 )

I went to the supermarket for lunch break, still 95% masked.

me and one old lady was about it for the unmasked.

We just nodded at each other and smiled.

Yeah, its not going to change any time soon.

13 ( +33 / -20 )

People who fixate their gaze on their cell phones while crossing a street are prime candidates for a Darwin Award.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Readers, too much Japan-bashing on this thread. Please do not make fun of those who wish to wear masks and do not insult those who do not wear masks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just hope that government officials don't mistake wearing a mask as not trusting them. We are just taking safety measures. One would think that not having to wear a mask would be something to celebrate. Unfortunately, I think most people are just exhausted. Now everybody grabs their masks in the morning just like their SUICA card. It's totally a habit now.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Big LOL @ those people who kept banging on about "looking forward to March 13th"...believing magically people would unmask!

Wear a mask if you wish. Many, many reasons people choose to - and we have no right to judge.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

I wore my mask when I went to do my taxes this morning I was scared not to as everyone in the que was wearing one.

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

I think there will be more occasions when I will take my mask off.

These statements do not make much sense. Who are the ominous "we" that were forcing people to wear masks until today? And maybe there will be occasions where he will take off his mask again? As a prime minister, he should have chosen his words better.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

I was never an anti-masker but I’m sorry no more vaccines or masks for me unless I’m indoors and about to talk to someone I dont know

I was in a very nice park in Kawasaki this weekend, one of those you can walk for half an hour surrounded by the forest, every single person was wearing a mask.

9 ( +19 / -10 )

Saw quite a few free faces in Tsukiji market area today. The great unmasking is beginning. Will take a while. Tomorrow in the gym, after three long, miserable years, no masks required. Hope the plastic curtaining is binned, too.

7 ( +16 / -9 )

Some people want to wear masks.

The adult response to this is ‘Oh’.

The adult response is not a tantrum.

-4 ( +15 / -19 )

my 2nd year elementary school student just got back from school. He said everyone was still wearing masks, and the teach didn't announce anything about it being OK to take them off.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

*teacher

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I am not confident enough to know what to do with my mouth, now that everyone can see my mouth. Maybe looks weird just keeping my mouth open or move my lips around like no one can see it ... Like moving my mask with lips and chin

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

If people want to wear a mask that’s up to them. Leave them alone.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

Foreigners inside Japan can now freely walk around without a mask, just as Japanese typically do outside Japan.

8 ( +21 / -13 )

From the new school year, masks are not required.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Nothing has changed. Japan and Asia in general has been wearing masks (for pollution, colds/flu, allergies, etc.) for many years before the pandemic.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

Just got back from shopping, Face it, Mask will be around for a long long Time. I thought there would be some pull back...Not a chance

Do shops still have signs up saying "don't come in without a mask on?" If so, folks aren't going to take em off.

fwiw, one of the likes for the above comment is from me.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Many Japanese love the anonymity the masks gives. Mix this in with a hat and sunglasses, invisible.

I saw more people with masks this am (6am) walking, alone, than I have in weeks. Seems a doubling down.

As soon as Japanese travel the masks are off though.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Kids growing up and only seeing all strangers with mask on, can't be a good thing for their minds, I don't care how you slice it

Passengers on trains are too busy looking at their phones to notice anyone else anyways. Honestly, its probably not a bad idea to wear a mask on the train. It might prevent the perverts from following people home and help quell the stinky breath and fart smells.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Slightly disappointed (thought not at all surprised) to not see any faces this morning, as I was hoping for more of a return to normality. But each to their own: people should always be free to wear a mask if they want!

The only thing I would say is that perhaps the government could enforce that freedom of choice a bit more. Many companies are still making their staff wear them, so in a very real sense, many people are not free to choose.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

i see no reason for any excitement at all.

its peoples own choice.

someone wants wear mask for forever,somewhere does not want.

same thing with vaccines.let people decide by themselves what they want to do.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

It must be tough to change. It is also allergy season too.

I moved back to Australia 6 months ago where almost no one wears a mask. My wife still does, because of her fear of getting sick.

I still travel to Japan for business regularly, and feel compelled to wear a mask. But what I can say is that not wearing a mask is very liberating after 2.5 years of wearing one every day.

Give the people time to adjust and find what's right for them. But no one should criticize someone for wearing or not wearing a mask.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

So everything is back to normal.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

in the country that has had an extremely high regard for their effectiveness at anti-virus protection.

Japanese have high regard for the anti-virus protection provided by masks??? Surely if this were true, most Japanese would wear masks outside Japan too, wouldn't they? Or is the desire for anti-virus protection surpassed by the need to conform?

0 ( +14 / -14 )

More billions of tonnes of microplastics in the marine environment and ending up in the sushi for the win.

Well done.

I will cheer loudly through a fossil fuel derived filter for that.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

The same thing happened in England - for the first week, maybe two, the vast majority continued wearing masks in shops after they ceased to be mandated. There was a steady decline for around a month after that, and suddenly they nearly all disappeared. Not wanting to be a first-mover isn't a phenomenon unique to the Japanese.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Has the memo gone round to schools that kids ( humans ) need to see people’s faces to connect? Surely the studies have been done about how they are likely impacting people psychologically short, medium and long term? There’s been more than ample time. Does Japan think it can survive the coming years and demographic crisis with a disconnected, confused and distant populace? Where are the debates ? Or is it once again thrown into the ‘too hard’ basket, conflict averse and frozen.

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this issue but I’m afraid these muddled, half hearted messages and policies by the leaders of the nation will only lead to more lost decades. The downward spiral, exponential. These masks aren’t even good for the environment so we should be able to get all camps on board and moving.

Color code it, do some campaigns , whatever it takes. There’s a lot of beautiful faces in this country, so get them out!

7 ( +13 / -6 )

I got a mask on outdoors mainly because my hay fever has been acting up lately. These past few weeks have been rough even taking the meds they have here. Looking forward to May when the season dies down.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Masks stay on in Japan as 3-year request to wear them ends

It seems like March 13th couldn't not come fast enough after all.

Looks like I'll be picking up masks in the forests & mountains for some time to come yet.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

very few people are going to immediately cast their masks aside the very way new guidelines go into effect. I was abroad when they locally had a similar change in measures and it took a couple of weeks for them to gradually taper off to where it seemed about 1/50 was stilled masked… I doubt Japan was ever as low as 1/50 pre-Covid19 but I hope that the moaners will stop whining and feeling insecure when at least a third of Japanese go back to being maskless in the coming weeks.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Disappointed but not surprised

On the plus side was great to almost all politicians maskless in the diet today

At least the government is pushing for a return to normal

0 ( +6 / -6 )

This is an interesting read, regardless of what side of the fence you are on:

Japan's unmasking will start slow, but it will happen: social psychology expert

March 12, 2023 (Mainichi Japan)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230310/p2a/00m/0li/010000c

I hope it helps.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The real tipping point in Europe and the US was when the maskless became a majority and people still wearing masks felt exponentially more out of place in public as the ratio shifted… nobody wants to be the one weirdo in a supermarket still wearing a mask.

It’s been a cultural norm in Japan long before Covid and has zero social stigma so I could see it taking a lot longer before most people are maskless.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

My son came home from his international school most weren’t wearing them and all teachers were maskless, back to norm there and fast.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

@Elvis - Cheers - interesting article. Gives me some hope!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Masks stay on in Japan as 3-year request to wear them ends

people having trouble understanding.

People are not being discouraged to wear masks; request to wear masks was merely dropped

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What's really hilarious is that lots of posters here who criticize Japanese for being conformists actually waited for the dropping of the request before going maskless lol

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

I am noticing more people than usual NOT wearing masks, as I commute home across central Tokyo.

Interesting.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

But many of their employees are keeping their masks on to show consideration for customers and others who need protection.

Not everyone has consideration for others unfortunately, many are only thinking of themselves

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Japan as always is behind the rest of the world,it is a very stressful situation indeed and it probably will take years to return to normality here.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

I guess it depends where you live in Japan.

a lot of people outside here in Miyazaki are taking their masks off, but it’s still going to take time for people to take them off inside.

The leaders of Japan like politicians and teachers are still encouraging masks but they should be leading the way and encouraging people and students to go mask free.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Masks are not an “effective anti-virus protection,” and that’s not why Japanese have ever worn them.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Do shops still have signs up saying "don't come in without a mask on?" If so, folks aren't going to take em off.

The one store I went into today did, and every single person but me was wearing a mask.

That said, they are already wearing them on their bike and while walking to the store, so I doubt the sign has anything to do with it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The best comment in this thread is from the moderator: “ Please do not make fun of those who wish to wear masks and do not insult those who do not wear masks. “

Disappointed to see some people almost bullying others because of their choices and opinions.

note: You didn’t need a crystal ball to know what was gonna happen today…; what we’re witnessing today is not surprising. It’s too fast, too early. Masks will disappear… gradually. I already said this ninety four times: the real change will come in May.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

What's really hilarious is that lots of posters here who criticize Japanese for being conformists actually waited for the dropping of the request before going maskless lol

How is that funny? The fact that the government announced it is a personal choice from today, means you were expected to wear them (indoors) until now. We were given the choice today, and chose not to wear them.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I reckon that if I don’t have to wear a mask anymore at my work, then I’ll stop wearing them, but keep it in my pocket just in case.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

When the summer hear becomes unbearable and the usual voices are suggesting unmasking to avoid heat death, then they'll come off.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Was in a couple on shops today unmasked.

My masks are basicallyno longer needed but it feels weird when so many others are masked up.

Still, feels good to breathe freely again

8 ( +11 / -3 )

How is that funny? The fact that the government announced it is a personal choice from today, means you were expected to wear them (indoors) until now. We were given the choice today, and chose not to wear them.

Hahahaha ok

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

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