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Students mask up at graduation ceremonies despite PM saying they don’t have to

73 Comments

Many high school students across Japan continued to wear face masks at their graduation ceremonies this week, even though Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said last month that there was no requirement to do so.

Kishida said that the government would not urge students and teachers to wear face masks at school graduation ceremonies as part of its plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions on March 13. However, he also said that schools should not force people who wish to keep wearing masks to remove them.

A one ceremony in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, all students and teachers wore masks during the ceremony. At Sendai Daiichi High School in the Miyagi prefectural capital of Sendai, about half of the students, mostly boys, did not wear face masks during their graduation ceremony.

Currently, Japan's education ministry recommends that students wear face masks in school whenever it is difficult to keep sufficient distance from others indoors.

Skepticism, however, is growing that many Japanese people will stop wearing face masks outside amid lingering fears about being infected by the coronavirus.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

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73 Comments

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seems to be mostly the women who are masked, bloke-sans not much.

13 ( +31 / -18 )

They can make their own decisions - it's their body after all - as much as it will infuriate the always-know-better anti-mask crowd.

5 ( +47 / -42 )

Of course they still mask

it’s called social conditioning

11 ( +55 / -44 )

Why on earth would they listen to Kishida?

As Fighto says, it's their body.

-20 ( +20 / -40 )

Unfortunately, yes, most females prefer to wear a mask now as it has become an addiction for some since they feel more comfortable wearing them since they feel it gives them a better chance in society since many girls have come to be known as マスク美人.

-9 ( +31 / -40 )

It’s obviously a gender issue. In the photo included with this article, I count …

24 men unmasked, 0 women unmasked

34 men masked, 39 women masked

But I’m sure we’ll soon return to 2019, when virtually all students and their parents were unmasked, as evidenced in these photos of a typical 2019 entrance ceremony in Hyogo Prefecture:

https://www.sandagakuen.ed.jp/blog/gakuen/38721

2 ( +18 / -16 )

It’s obviously a gender issue. In the photo included with this article, I count …

24 men unmasked, 0 women unmasked 

34 men masked, 39 women masked

Would that make the women brighter, or just more likely to follow an acquaintance off a cliff?

-5 ( +19 / -24 )

Ahh, to be young and rebellious. Wearing masks when to government says you don't have to.lol

12 ( +35 / -23 )

Students mask up at graduation ceremonies despite.,,

Lol. That gave me a chuckle. So I heard regarding a recent graduation ceremony. Any rational person in country would not be surprised because;

it's hay fever season in Japan. masks help against pollen allergy

teens are an insecure bunch and they have been wearing masks in school the whole time. They're hardly going to just ditch them over night

Japanese are comfortable wearing masks

And finally from the article ( which I have my doubts about):

lingering fears about being infected by the coronavirus.

Anyways, small steps in the right direction. March 13th will be here soon enough :^@

-1 ( +19 / -20 )

Get used to it. I foresee at least 50% of the people will always wear masks from now on. It was increasing even before covid.

-1 ( +30 / -31 )

I wonder what type of high school this is in the picture. It is not "typical" to see a high school graduation where the graduates are wearing suits and kimonos. Usually the students are all wearing their school uniforms.

I attended a technical college graduation yesterday, and from what one female graduate told me, it costs upwards of ¥100,000 to "rent" the kimono and hakama, plus get their hair done for the event.

That's a ton of cash for a HS graduate or their family to be paying out!

16 ( +28 / -12 )

Probably a lot of young women don’t feel confident without a mask on now. There is already a lot of pressure to be “pretty” and what better way to not feel the pressure than to not be seen?

-3 ( +20 / -23 )

Just proof how much damage has been done to the human psyche over the last few years. Japan has a long way to go to recover from this, but it's good to see that some have decided that enough's enough and they've ditched their masks.

11 ( +39 / -28 )

Get used to it. I foresee at least 50% of the people will always wear masks from now on. It was increasing even before covid.

What Moonraker says.

I have little faith in people who are pulling on the chain to go maskless. I'll probably keep mine on after the watershed March 13th because I want to.

-16 ( +21 / -37 )

The photo of all the girls masked and only half the guys unmasked seems to have been the trend for a while.

And the guys that are usually unmasked in public are sick or unkempt looking or “gangsta” wannabes.

-18 ( +14 / -32 )

While countries like the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ had secretive 'nudge units' in their government to use psychological techniques to coerce and shame people into compliance, with the media championing the 'throwing of tomatoes' at those that differed in opinion, the Gov of Japan was more explicit along with media messaging. Masks became a social issue of arbitary 'manners' . The people are generally more compliant and bow down to peer pressure easily here so it's very sad to see, especially with young people. They really beed to listen to the 'experts' and take them off. 'Trust the Science' - Remember?

9 ( +23 / -14 )

My gym is now mask optional, in 3 visits I have only seen one guy maskless (foreigner) and one with a chin mask. That's out of at least 25 people. Its going to be a slow return to normal.

18 ( +33 / -15 )

A one ceremony in Gift City, Gifu Prefecture, all students and teachers wore masks during the ceremony.

In other words, the school pressured both students and teachers to wear the face masks so the principal can appear to be "vigilant and caring". When in fact its the opposite.

At Sendai Daiichi High School in the Miyagi prefectural capital of Sendai, about half of the students, mostly boys, did not wear face masks during their graduation ceremony.

In this case, the students clearly exercised their option of freedom. And you can expect this male\female difference in the coming weeks as girls are much more anxious about showing their face after 3 years.

The numbers will naturally dwindle in the coming months when the ludicrous idea to wear them becomes more and more apparent even to the most anxiety ridden.

1 ( +21 / -20 )

They can make their own decisions - it's their body after all - as much as it will infuriate the always-know-better anti-mask crowd.

AGree.

Get used to it. I foresee at least 50% of the people will always wear masks from now on. It was increasing even before covid.

I think so too. People here have become even more insular since the pandemic and shaking the fear of Covid isn't going to be easy. I think well over half of the population will continue to wear them.

I have little faith in people who are pulling on the chain to go maskless.

For sure! Agree 100%.

I'll probably keep mine on after the watershed March 13th because I want to.

Same. When I go to the supermarket, conbini, or use public transport, I will keep mine on. I will take it off outdoors and when I'm at my desk.

-11 ( +11 / -22 )

The high school I work at requested that everyone wear a mask. 100% compliance. Except me. I have a medical exemption and get by with a mouth shield, even more worthless than a mask.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Skepticism, however, is growing that many Japanese people will stop wearing face masks outside amid lingering fears 

I think you meant to write the opposite, that many Japanese people will NOT stop wearing masks outside

12 ( +13 / -1 )

So sad and such a waste of time

-3 ( +22 / -25 )

Face masks are like underwear now; people feel naked without one on.

11 ( +32 / -21 )

Their choice, but makes no difference to Covid protection

15 ( +28 / -13 )

@master.

there is a reason a surgeon and a nurse wear masks. Not sure what YOUR research is, but cherry picking isn’t research. And it was never about 100% stopping the virus it was about reducing the speed or the spread, so that health care systems weren’t crushed. I think Italy and more recently China were good examples of letting loose and seeing the consequences. You do know why nurses wear masks when treating certain patients? It to stop you GIVING the patient something. Reducing that distance or spread.but we’ve been there and I guess there is no treatment for…………

-3 ( +15 / -18 )

YeahRightToday  08:30 am JST

The high school I work at requested that everyone wear a mask. 100% compliance. Except me. I have a medical exemption and get by with a mouth shield, even more worthless than a mask.

there is absolutely no medical reason I can think of for not wearing a mask apart from the lack of hearing due to no ears. Or the rather short extension of the radius and ulnar, preventing said patient from popping one on. And if your lung function tests and peak flow are soooo low. I wouldn’t want to be out anywhere near someone who might have flu, Covid 19. So many used that excuse when the truth is, a mask doesn’t infringe on O2 saturation levels even with multiple layers.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

Simple NO ONE DARES to step out of line, only those who have the confidence and the courage to do so as usual.

7 ( +21 / -14 )

I didn't realize students wore kimonos for SHS graduation. Another thing to pay for :(

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Mask wearing was much more of a cultural norm in Japan long before the pandemic, so no great surprise they have continued to be worn. The fact that they were quickly discarded in other countries is down to cultural differences.

That boys are more inclined to rebel and girls are more conformist to the norms of the group, especially in Japan is hardly a shock discovery.

Farmboy, there is nothing wrong with an elegant tie provided it is knotted properly!

2 ( +13 / -11 )

100% new this would happen. Same thing happened at the school here. Everyone masked up, like everyone, despite the ‘option’. A perfect example of how half hearted leadership and directives don’t work and will never work. The principals and teachers just did exactly the same thing as the prime minister did. Half hearted opaque and ambiguous messages. The good old ‘responsibility’ dodge.

If you want these face masks off it’ll have to be like a mass exorcism where everyone decides , in NO UNCERTAIN terms that from today , say April 1st ( seems appropriate ) for the future mental health of the nation they come off. Enough is enough. But that would take actual leadership and it’s obvious no one is willing to lead so we now have the faceless generation. An absolute disgrace, and the PM is 100% to blame in too down Japan. These ceremonies were a once a year chance too. The MEEK have inherited Japan.

5 ( +19 / -14 )

Let's not forget it's also hay fever season.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

TOP down Japan. Gomen.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

I’m totally masked up…nothing to do with covid, or ‘social conditioning’ as someone hilariously claimed.

Pollen allergy kicked in to full gear with ybe warm wind the other day.

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

@Ricky - Absolutely spot on. There needs to be real leadership on this issue not some half-hearted nonsense. Masking for many has become a psychological crutch.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

In the picture above some students are shown mask-less.

Seasonal hay fever is also responsible for the mask use in public, so it's harder to tell.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Well it could also be that these allergies are really bad right now. So, who cares? If the gov't would stop the tree monoculture we would likely be wearing fewer masks as well.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

If I lived in Sendai, I would wear a mask against low dose radiation. I have been there three times and using my trusty Geiger counter, the level is twice the normal recommended level. That times, over ten years of constant exposure. I don’t wear face nappies, but when I go to Tohoku, I wear two at a time.

young people don’t have to fear SAR-CoV-2. I had it before. It was like a cold with a short fever. I’m old, but as a vegetarian my immune system is quite strong.

i talk to many women about why they wear masks, many told me they don’t have to bother with putting on makeup.

-21 ( +7 / -28 )

I'm proud of the half that chose to not wear masks despite the societal pressure to wear them. If only the general population would be so brave...

8 ( +20 / -12 )

Japanese ladies are shy.

No sterotypical generalizations here. LOL.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Different but semi-related venue:

3/1 marked the end of mask requirements at Anytime Fitness in Japan.

It was pure bliss.

(I never liked masks but I always did it because I am a responsible member of an interconnected society, but I digress....)

Much to my surprise, it was only me and a couple of other knuckle-draggers (My term of endearment and no small amount of jealosy for the muscled up guys that I stive but fail to be.... Again, digression) that were maskless.

EVERYONE ELSE, not just the staff, EVERYONE else was masked up.

I should have known better but was nonetheless still surprised.

2 ( +15 / -13 )

I saw one high school student on the news recently who casually mentioned that she had gone through the entirety of her high school years without having seen the faces of most of her classmates, and that she wouldn’t recognize them if she saw them unmasked.

Its worth considering the negative social consequences these masks are having on young people’s experience of life. I’m not an anti-masker and have been willing to wear one as a response to a public health emergency, but after three years and with very marginal evidence to suggest that they do much good, I find myself becoming more concerned about the long term negative consequences this “new normal” is having, particularly on young people who are now growing up accustomed to not seeing human faces.

9 ( +23 / -14 )

I think Italy and more recently China were good examples of letting loose and seeing the consequences.

Abe234 - last summer, ultra lockdown fanatics NZ and Australia simultaneously had the world's worst new cases, hospitilizations, and deaths per capita.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

rainyday, excellent point. And how about the very young children? Serious psychological consequences will be emerging for years to come.

11 ( +21 / -10 )

For the time being I think there is nothing bad about wearing masks. As time passes, another 2 or 3 years time people really should give them up and return to normal. I like to see people's faces.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

As long as everyone, especially students are free to mask or not, and not be forced into either by some weird kind of societal pressure. Very much their body their choice.

(which ironically was exactly what mask-skeptics had been saying yet were criticised for the whole time)

It is pollen season, so expect to see more than "usual", but hopefully we can finally end the facade.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

@rainy day hits the nail on the head superbly. Every other argument is irrelevant at this stage.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

rainyday, excellent point. And how about the very young children? Serious psychological consequences will be emerging for years to come.

As a parent with two young kids, this does concern me a great deal.

My youngest was just 2 years old when the pandemic started and is going to be starting Elementary School next year. She has basically spent her entire life living in a world where masked faces are the norm, not seeing people smile is the norm, not knowing what her classmates and teachers look like is the norm, not being able to communicate feelings through facial expressions is the norm, not engaging in many social activities is the norm, and so on and so on.

We don't know what kind of effect this is going to have on her entire generation as they grow up having missed out on these things and nobody seems to really care about that because the consequences aren't obvious right now. Are they going to be less socially active, less empathetic, more introverted? Is this going to harm them and their ability to adjust to society as they grow up?

I'm sick of people, mostly non-parents, just framing this as a matter of personal choice that doesn't have any potential negative consequences. We're inadvertently subjecting young people to a mass experiment on their social development without their consent or really any thought as to their well being. These concerns need to be addressed.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

March 13th can't come quick enough.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

fatrainfallingintheforestToday  11:20 am JST

*Abe234 - last summer, ultra lockdown fanatics NZ and Australia simultaneously had the world's worst new cases, hospitilizations, and deaths per capita.*

Source? Please and thank you

For me no need for a source for that since it's reasonable that having the worst cases would be grounds to implement the strictest measures they could implement

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Well, you can take it up with my doctor, who has given me a medical certificate, and my school, who has accepted it as a valid reason for me not having to wear the mask. If you don't know me and my condition, just stay out of it.

Abe234Today  08:59 am JST

there is absolutely no medical reason I can think of for not wearing a mask apart from the lack of hearing due to no ears. Or the rather short extension of the radius and ulnar, preventing said patient from popping one on. And if your lung function tests and peak flow are soooo low. I wouldn’t want to be out anywhere near someone who might have flu, Covid 19. So many used that excuse when the truth is, a mask doesn’t infringe on O2 saturation levels even with multiple layers.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

For me no need for a source for that since it's reasonable that having the worst cases would be grounds to implement the strictest measures they could implement

Nevertheless, I'd like a source.

Yes of course, that's the prudent thing to do because the claim is outlandish even though i said it's reasonable as grounds for lockdown, if true.

I was merely saying that it doesn't imply what the poster was implying.

He was implying that the two countries got the worst cases despite having lockdowns whereas the truth is probably that the lockdowns were implemented as a response to the bad situation

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Well, a lot of people have developed a type of anxiety disorder after being forced so many years to wear a mask, and feel like you would die or kill your peers if you don't wear a mask.

They have developed a psychological dependency to the mask, which in the case of young people could be pretty deeply rooted, and many of them will be unable to ever go back to normal, or take years.

-8 ( +14 / -22 )

As others have noticed, its about 100% of girls and 50% of blokes that are masked. At my school's graduation, it was similar. Nothing to do with Covid either, just self-esteem issues. Some even refused to un-mask during the photo session afterwards. This is a BIG problem that is going to persist in society for years. Its going to have a big impact on the birth rate too as this is a sign about self-esteem and people with low self-esteem are not going to feel comfortable getting into a romantic relationship with someone.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

schools should not force people who wish to keep wearing masks to remove them

That sounds scary, masks being removed by force.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

That sounds scary, masks being removed by force

just as forcing people by force to wear masks maybe ? except Japan, most countries enforced masks by fining or even jailing people not wearing theirs.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Remember, it's not a law to wear a mask. Just a guideline.

Indeed. I've said that all along. Why get so upset by masks? It's not the law to wear one.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

Indeed. I've said that all along. Why get so upset by masks? It's not the law to wear one.

Can't be denied or disregarded since it's right here in the thread. Lots of people are deeply affected psychologically by masks.

You can see by their posts how some people are deeply disturbed, imagining all sorts of physiological and psychological effects of masks to others whereas it's clear they are the ones affected.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

I said this last year, and at the time I don't think people wanted to acknowledge the point I was making. Therefore, it bears repeating:

Japan's entire cultural identity now revolves around Covid. That's why any marginal step in the direction of normalcy is treated as such a big story. The fact that they opened their borders was only news because they did so almost an entire year after the U.K., and many other countries. Laughably, in 2021 there were members of the J-gov criticizing the UK for opening too early. I remember, only about a year ago, I was trying to eat at a Hamazushi in Shizuoka, and was turned away, because I had arrived at the restaurant around 7:30pm, and due to the "Quasi" State of Emergency, they had to close at 8pm. I remember being absolutely flabbergasted. The rest of the world had already abandoned these measures in early 2021. But here Japan was a year later, still slowly fumbling it's way out of an era of terrible policies. It doesn't even look like they are going to remove the requirements of uploading your 3x vaccination proof/negative PCR results to "VisitJapan" web in order to enter the country; after all, I am living in Japan and paying taxes, not visiting.

Now we get to the masks. Look, I think it's fine if people want to continue wearing them. I don't care what other people do. But the slap in the face is that I have been yelled at by bus drivers and getting ugly stares on the train because I already stopped in 2021. I've still had to involuntarily wear a mask at my job, and likely, my coworkers will continue to wear their's after March 13th, creating this awkward situation wherein I am the only one not doing it. This process will inevitably and obviously play out in the form of favoritism, gossip, and perhaps even workplace harassment.

The damage has already been done and it can't be reversed.

-7 ( +13 / -20 )

Alan BogglesworthToday  07:55 am JST “ Probably a lot of young women don’t feel confident without a mask on now. There is already a lot of pressure to be “pretty” and what better way to not feel the pressure than to not be seen? “

I saw this post (thank you for bringing that up) and I wanted to say that I’ve been noticing many cute girls (or girls that think they’re cute) without masks, showing off their cute faces and how cool/pretty they are…; (many times, while walking around Tokyo, I look around, everyone’s wearing their masks, except this girl or group of girls…)… I don’t know if some of my fellow JT readers noticed this, but it’s something that, imo, needs to be addressed (and I wish that we could read an article about this someday…); of course this is related to that pressure…, and it’s not just pressure… it’s also a competition… and it’s not healthy…; there’s this obsession for beauty, pale skin (it’s absurd) and cuteness in Japan and we can see that everywhere, literally everywhere…; and, of course, millions of Japanese girls will have a problem with this.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The Japanese at the start of the pandemic listened to their own medical experts and so the general public was advised to wear masks in contrast to recommendations by the WHO, which advised this was not necessary.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

The damage has already been done and it can't be reversed.

Yep, it's really sad and it will have consequences for years to come.

As some Japanese journalist said, the masks will be seen by people outside of Japan as something kind of a Burqa or Hijab that Japanese people wear as part of their culture.

-9 ( +11 / -20 )

The Japanese at the start of the pandemic listened to their own medical experts and so the general public was advised to wear masks in contrast to recommendations by the WHO, which advised this was not necessary.

That is stil las false as every time you copy-paste it, the medical associations in Japan recommended masks to be prioritized for hospitals and sytmptomatic patients and not for asymptomatic people in the general population, scarcity was an important problem at the beginning of the pandemic, enough for the prime minister to try to make an appeal by sending cloth masks to the people.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Some people prefer to mask up because they think it makes them look more attractive. Not a problem in Japan as it is in South Korea though.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Masks will not be required from the beginning of the new school year.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

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