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93% of Japanese workers continue to mask up, according to study

Despite the Japanese government’s recent relaxation of mask-wearing rules, a whopping 93% of working adults still choose to wear the protective gear as part of their daily routine.

According to a survey conducted by Tokyo-based career development agency Laibo, 39.6% of respondents wear masks “unconditionally,” meaning they’re not gonna let anything stop them from keeping themselves and others safe, while another 53.4% do so depending on the situation. That’s still a pretty high number of people wearing masks, considering the government said it was okay to stop wearing them in most situations starting March 13th.

So why are so many people still wearing masks? Well, for starters, a lot of people are just used to it by now. Habitual mask-wearing makes up the largest percentage of people who still mask up. And then there’s the fact that peer pressure is definitely at play here. Almost 40% of people said they wear masks because everyone else is wearing them too.

But it’s not just social pressure making people mask up. A lot of companies in Japan are still requiring their employees to wear masks while on the job. Retail giant Aeon, for instance, has made mask-wearing mandatory for all 500,000 domestic employees at its physical stores and corporate headquarters. They’re also requiring employees to report any COVID symptoms they might have before coming into work.

Meanwhile, FamilyMart and other convenience store chains and some manufacturing companies, have recommended face coverings for their workers. And it seems like a lot of workers are following suit, because only 31.1% of Japanese businesses plan on lifting company-wide mask rules any time soon.

For individuals, the decision to wear masks also depends on the workplace culture. Professor of social psychology Kazuya Nakayachi at Kyoto’s Doshisha University explains that if people around them continue to wear masks in the workplace, then individuals will likely continue to do so outside of it as well.

While other countries like the U.K. and the U.S. are moving away from masks, with only 20% and less than 50% of the population wearing masks, respectively, in Japan, it seems the habit is here to stay for the foreseeable future. In fact, 75% of respondents in Laibo’s survey said they plan to continue wearing masks as needed or all the time.


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