‘Request for Sakai City to conduct a survey regarding the use of masks and “silent eating” in elementary schools’ (Translation Justin Aukema)


Third-year elementary school students eat in silence, surrounded by partitions in Amagasaki City (Like Sakai City in the article, both are in Osaka region). 2 September 2021. http://www.ama-net.ed.jp/school/e31/2021/09/post-687.html 

Many Western observers and even long-time Japan hands, i.e. so-called 'expert' pundits who often work at elite Japanese universities and lecture the press and social media about their 'extensive' knowledge of Japan, continue to convey the mistaken impression that Japanese people like wearing masks. Convinced of the superiority of their position, they refuse to acknowledge any criticisms against their pro-mask ideology, and falsely claim that much of the Japanese populace supports their view. Sadly for them, this is a total fallacy. I have previously attempted to highlight just some of the popular opposition to mask wearing and other destructive and authoritarian Covid measures being forced on the Japanese population. This article continues my earlier efforts. 

Future social historians will look back on this time period in Japan and will likely uncover documents such as the following. It is a column on the Sakai City homepage under the section "Citizen's voices" (shimin no koe) and titled ‘Request for Sakai City to conduct a survey regarding the use of masks and “silent eating” in elementary schools.' I have taken the liberty of translating the short piece into English to leave a lasting record and to continue to offer more evidence of popular opposition to Covid policies in Japan. At the moment, it often seems like I am shouting at the wall. Many Covidian Japan scholars and fly-by day-trippers, puzzlingly almost always from North America, continue to stubbornly cling to their increasingly tenuous claim of Japan's 'love' of masks. Perhaps only history will prove them wrong. But I hope I can help speed up that process.

Following my translation of the text below, I have provided a screenshot as well as link to the original article. It is also sobering to think that such city offices are likely flooded with such mails on a daily basis. This was certainly just one out of many and was most certainly edited by City redactors. Nevertheless, the simple fact that the City chose to print the article at all is intriguing. Their response largely fails to address any of the writer's original concerns and simply echoes hollow refrain of government (MHLW) exhortations. But we should not fault them for this. It is very difficult for a bureaucratic office in Japan especially to deviate from official policy. What is more interesting is that the printed the article at all, a facet that suggests the writer may have some sympathizers among local city officials. 


‘Request for Sakai City to conduct a survey regarding the use of masks and “silent eating” in elementary schools’ (Translation Justin Aukema)

30 September 2022

At present, many parents in Japan are worried about the trend to force children to wear masks. In some prefectures, people have even submitted signature petitions to the local school superintendent. I want Sakai City, also, to at least conduct some kind of survey on the issue. As a parent, I want my kids to be able to grow up living a normal childhood.

It’s been three years now since the first outbreak of Covid-19. By this point, many of us have already contracted Covid. At the same time, it is feared that long term masking of children is already causing irreparable damage. This includes a decline in cognitive and academic skills and difficulties interacting with others. Many children have already developed a psychological dependency on masks and are unable to remove them. In other prefectures, there are some schools that have made masking an individual decision to be made by families and their children. Those who want to remove their masks can, and those who don’t can keep them on. Sakai City elementary schools should also not force kids to mask and should make masking an individual decision.

I also think forcing kids to eat in silence is very strange. After all, adults are allowed to talk freely when dining in restaurants. Why is it that only children must be forced to eat in silence? Eating meals is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. If kids are continuously not allowed to talk while eating, it could lead to mental health or other issues.

For the reasons listed above, I want Sakai City to conduct a survey to the following effect.

(1) Regarding wearing masks while indoor at school
    (a) Not necessary, (b) necessary, (c) no preference

(2) Indoor masking should be the individual decision of families
    (a) Agree, (b) disagree, (c) no preference

(3) Regarding the policy of ‘eating in silence’ (mokushoku)
    (a) Should be continued, (b) should be discontinued, (c) no preference

I also want you to remind residents that, legally speaking, masking is still technically an individual’s choice. Yet in schools there is intense pressure to conform. If somebody is concerned about Covid-19, it should be up to them whether to wear a mask or not. But we shouldn’t use force or peer pressure against those who don’t want to wear a mask. Even the national government and the Ministry of Education admit that people are not ‘required’ (gimu) to wear masks. It is and always has been optional.

Article found at: https://www.city.sakai.lg.jp/shisei/koho/kocho/shiminnokoe/R04/r040930/2.html 

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