About 86% of people are still wearing masks in public a month after Japan’s guidelines were eased, according to an artificial intelligence system developed by broadcaster NTV surveying people at Tokyo Station.
The results illustrate a widespread preference to wear masks in public even when officials aren’t pushing the issue, differing from the norm in Western countries.
The AiD AI system, which analyzed video footage of people walking in front of the station on Monday, showed that 85.6% of the people passing by were wearing masks, slightly down from a figure of 89.7% collected on March 13, when the mask guidelines were revised.
The new guidelines leave the decision on wearing a mask to the individual's personal choice.
COVID-19 cases have declined in recent weeks, with 9,940 daily nationwide cases reported on Tuesday, compared with nearly 250,000 in early January. Tokyo cases have been gradually increasing, however, with the capital reporting 1,490 cases on Tuesday, up from 1,357 a week before.
Wearing masks was common in Japan even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and some people regularly use masks during hay fever season.