Japan to OK School Ceremonies without Mask Wearing

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Students wear masks during a graduation ceremony at a junior high school in Tokyo in March 2021.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government is considering easing rules to allow students to attend graduation and entrance ceremonies this spring without having to wear masks, officials said Wednesday.

The education ministry currently recommends that participants of graduation and entrance ceremonies wear masks as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The government plans to drop the recommendation so that decisions will be left up to each individual, the officials said.

At a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday, many participants said that students should be allowed to attend a graduation ceremony without wearing masks because it is an important part of school life, according to a participant.

Some members of the health ministry’s advisory board on Wednesday proposed allowing students not to wear masks at graduation ceremonies that they describe as a once-in-a-lifetime event. Others sounded caution, however, saying that there are people at high risk of severe symptoms at a gathering, according to Takaji Wakita, chairman of the advisory board.

The government will downgrade COVID-19 to a lower-risk category of infectious diseases that includes influenza on May 8. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said decisions on whether to wear masks will basically be left up to individuals.