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69% in Japan favor no masks outdoors when not crowded: Mainichi poll

People wearing masks cross a street in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Feb. 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Sixty-nine percent of respondents to an opinion poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center on May 21 said it is unnecessary to wear masks when outdoors as a measure against coronavirus infections in Japan if it is not crowded.

    Only 22% said people should always wear masks when going outside, and 9% said they did not need to wear masks outdoors. Although an increasing number of people seem to think that masks are unnecessary outdoors, there are apparently a certain number of people who think that masks are indispensable.

    On May 20, the Japanese government announced its view that the wearing of masks is unnecessary outdoors when people rarely talk to each other, or when they do talk to each other and the distance between them and other people is 2 meters or more.

    On COVID-19 countermeasures taken up by the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, 41% of respondents said they approve of them, up 6 percentage points from the previous survey on April 23. The disapproval rating was 31%, a rise of 3 percentage points from the April survey.

    With regard to the government's entry restrictions on foreigners as part of its border control measures, results were close, with 43% of respondents saying that the restrictions should be eased and 41% saying that they should not be loosened. The government plans to raise the limit on the number of foreigners that can enter the country from the current 10,000 per day to 20,000 per day starting in June.

    As for the government's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 54% said they "evaluate it highly," while 21% expressed disapproval and 25% said they "couldn't say either way."

    Asked about the government's policy to stop importing crude oil and coal from Russia, 40% said it should stop immediately, 50% said it should be reduced gradually, and 11% said it is not necessary to do so.

    The approval rating for Kishida's Cabinet stood at 53%, up 3 percentage points from the previous survey. The disapproval rating was 37%, up 3 percentage points from the April survey.

    The survey was conducted using a combination of text messages on mobile phones and an automated voice questionnaire on fixed-line phones. A total of 733 valid responses were received from mobile phones and 309 valid responses from landlines.

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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