Comment: You know, mask wearing in japan was officially ended 5 weeks ago. And there has been no change of practice whatsoever. Mask wearing continues at close to 100pct.
Especially among young people mask wearing seems to be here to stay, possibly forever. Somewhere a psychologist will write a book about this phenomenon. Never in my life could I have imagine that the great nation of japan would adopt this practice like people wearing shoes. People driving in their cars on their own are wearing masks for god Sake. Mask wearing is now the primary method of signaling that the wearer is careful, thoughtful and considerate of others.
Reply: The pandemic will go down as the greatest mass social experiment in history. Face masks have become an everyday essential item for most Japanese. Implementing the face mask mandate was seamless in Japan as masks for allergies and disease were already commonplace. Mask sales rose during flu outbreaks years before COVID, especially in high-density cities. Some people wore masks as a fashion accessory or to limit approachability in social interactions. A 2011 poll from News Post Seven found that 30% of those who wore masks did not cite health concerns.
It took three years, but the Japanese government no longer mandates masks. Yet, it has become embedded in the culture. The Japanese culture values respecting one’s community. The government has never admitted that masks did not prevent the spread of COVID in a meaningful way. Instead, politicians continue to wear masks at public appearances, and the prime minister is encouraging people to continue wearing masks around vulnerable individuals. “We are not forcing anyone to wear it or take it off,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after the mandate ended. “I think there will be more occasions when I will take my mask off.” It is now seen as a respectful gesture for one’s neighbor.
Research institute Laibo conducted a study in February to determine why people are choosing to stay masked. Only 5.5% of 561 respondents said they would not wear a mask. Over half (50.2%) said that wearing a mask simply became a habit, while most (53.4%) said they are still afraid of catching the coronavirus. About 27.8% of respondents said they will wear their masks “unconditionally.”
Masks may have become a cultural norm in Japan. Everyone should have the ability to act on their own free will, but I suspect many feel the need to conform. The studies citing the ineffectiveness of mask usage have been swept under the rug. As the original commenter stated, masks now signal that the wearer is considerate of others. If only the government would come out and let the people know it is safe for both them and their neighbors to breathe in the air.