Diet Speakers No Longer Required to Wear Masks from Monday

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet building

The ruling and opposition parties have agreed that speakers at plenary sessions of the Diet will no longer be required to wear masks from Monday, when the ordinary Diet session convenes.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s policy speech and three other government speeches are scheduled on the first day of the session.

The decision to lift the requirement, which has been part of measures against the novel coronavirus, was made at Thursday’s meetings of the Rules and Administration Committees for both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.

The change will allow Diet members to debate without wearing masks for the first time in about three years since April 2020, when mask-wearing became necessary. The shift is meant to lead toward greater normalization of social and economic activities.

In the lower house, acrylic panels will be installed at the stenographer’s desk in front of the podium to prevent infections. The upper house will not install such panels because the stenographer’s desk is located away from the speaker. Experts have also said that ventilation in the chamber is sufficient. Attendees other than the speaker will continue to be asked to wear masks.