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'Please understand': Japan city gives out student-made tags for people who can't wear masks

Tags for people who cannot wear masks, created by students of the prefectural Takayama Technical High School and distributed to citizens, are seen at a public health center in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, on Oct. 12, 2021. (Mainichi/Tadayuki Otake)

TAKAYAMA, Gifu -- Wooden tags that ask for understanding for people who have difficulty wearing masks due to hypersensitivity, skin or respiratory diseases, or other conditions are being distributed by this central Japan city.

    Twelve members of the architecture and interior technology club of the prefectural Takayama Technical High School made the tags to help people who cannot wear masks, which can lead to misunderstandings in the coronavirus pandemic era.

    The heart-shaped tags, measuring 9.5 centimeters tall and 11 cm wide, are made of wood as Takayama is known for its woodwork. The shapes are cut out using a laser, and the message "I cannot wear a mask, please understand" is etched inside an illustration of a mask on the tag's front.

    The students learned from news reports of cases where people felt uncomfortable when they were warned by others about not using masks, and primary school children who cannot wear masks came home in tears after being told off. Hoping to improve this situation, they decided to make the tags and offered to donate them to the city.

    The city then requested the club to start turning out the tags, as it had received complaints from citizens that "people who cannot wear masks get admonished and feel uncomfortable."

    Kohaku Tomita, 18, a third-year student and head of the club, said, "We hope that the citizens will understand, and those who wear it will be able to live a comfortable daily life without unpleasantness in even the slightest."

    Distribution of the tags to individuals began in October at the health promotion section of the public health center in the city's Hanaokamachi neighborhood. One tag is provided for each individual.

    (Japanese original by Tadayuki Otake, Takayama Local Bureau)

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