As more countries ease their mask mandates, the top official overseeing Japan’s COVID-19 response has suggested that the government could recommend a phased relaxation of mask-wearing.

Economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, who is concurrently leading the government’s pandemic response, hinted during an NHK television program Sunday that such a gradual recommendation could eventually be in the cards as COVID-19 cases fall.

"We would like to create a situation where the number of new infections is quite low and the risk of contracting the disease during everyday activities can be disregarded,” Yamagiwa said. “If such conditions are created, masks will no longer be necessary.”