When the Japanese academic year started last month, students were no longer required to wear masks at school. But when 1,328 Japanese kids were asked whether they’d still keep masking from the beginning of the new school year, they inevitably gave depressing responses. 68% said they’d be wearing a mask anyway; just 5% said they wouldn’t. 27% said they’d wait and see what others were doing.
Even more depressing were the reasons for saying ‘Yes’. 35% said they did want to show their face; 20% that they were still worried about COVID-19. Only 7% said it was due to peer pressure.
A teacher at a high school in Osaka described the situation during the first month of optional masking.
We put up posters in the classrooms and hallways telling people that we’re not asking them to wear masks in the school, but only about 10% of the students have taken their masks off. Some students even wore masks during a photo shoot. Students were completely masked for all three years of junior-high school. You feel the pressure to conform, and it’s probably difficult for them to suddenly unmask. (emphasis added)
The clearest evidence of the mental toll that living in faceless society has had on Japanese children may be the increase in suicides of school pupils, which reached a record high in 2020 and surpassed it in 2022.
Read More: The Tragedy of Japan’s Masked Children