We are "Sugao Japan Project". We hope to see everyone's smile!

Covid-19 pandemic has made Japanese people use masks everytime and everywhere. After the downgrade of mask's rule by government, some people could take masks off. But a lot of adults and children haven't be free from masks yet.

Especially stores staff, office workers and young teenagers. Regretfully, some of them became to feel shame to show their real faces. We are strongly afraid that this problem would cause serious damage for our mental health, especially for children's growth.

Now it has become difficult to see and recognize others' faces, expressions, and smiles. How do you think about such society where many people keep hiding thier faces? We believe we should never accept it.

We hope to recover the positive days with brightly smiles, safety relationship by seeing face to face, and unmasked faces Japan. That's why we start this project.

Would you take interest in this matter? Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated.

About us

Name Sugao Japan Project *Sugao = bare face, without mask
Philosophy We hope to see everyone's smile again in Japanese society.
Founding April 2024
Representative Chairperson ... KIFUNE Shusaku
Vice Chairperson ... MORIMOTO Takahiro
Inquiry We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Our issue

1.Going back to the days that we show our real faces each other

When we meet someone else on the street, we say "Hello!". At that time we communicate not only by voice. We look at facial expression each other and feel comfortable by smile or feel anxious about the stiffness of cheek.

Being able to see each other's faces is the basis of human communication. Our first wish is to restore a society where we can see everyone's face as we would before Covid-19.

2.Voluntary masks? Is it really up to the individual?

After 13 March 2023, the wearing of masks became a "personal decision" according to government guidelines in Japan. One year has passed since then, how do you think? Is it true?

Walking outside, you may think that it has become a personal decision, because half of people are wearing masks and the others are taking off. But when you are entering any stores or public facilities, you would notice almost all staff are wearing masks. Also in school, a lot of students couldn't be free from masks. And responsible persons answer "It depend on a personal decision."

How about your workplace or your child's school? Isn't it superficial freedom? You should think about this issue rather than just using the word "peer pressure".

3.Even in gymnastics and athletic events... Let's stop dangerous masks!

The problem of masks is especially serious among children. Most of students at upper elementary, junior high, and highschool cannot remove their masks all the time. Not only during the commute to and from school and during classes, but also during strenuous physical activities such as physical education, athletic events, and sports club activities, many children remain wearing masks.

Of course, the situation seems to vary from school to school, depending on the degree of teachers' call. However, to allow children to exercise with masks even under hot summer sun when there are big risk of heatstroke, are kinds of child abuse and corporal punishment. No longer a matter of infection control at all.

Sometimes adults pretend not to see such terrible situation by excuse to say "we can't let children take masks off obligatory". As a result, some students may become unconscious and be transported to hospital, and in the worst case scenario, they may lose their lives. We strongly hope that dangerous masks will be stopped immediately. This is a natural response.

4.Continuous support for the children who are embarrassed to show their faces

The problem of masks for children is not easy because masks are no longer medical care goods, but have become tools to hide their faces. Psychological impact of their shame to show real faces is now quite significant.

There are not few children who stubbornly refuse to remove their masks or are unable to do so, even their teachers at school or parents at home try to persuade. The damage of children's mental growth are so huge and it is extremely serious reality. However few politicians or media are actively addressing this issue.

For children who always wear masks and cannot take them off even during physical activities, forcing them to remove masks may cause negative effect. Professional counseling probably necessary. We adults should take responsibility to empathize with them and consider solution continuously.

5.Dining with smiles! First step to be free from masks is to enjoy the meal together

Not only children but also some adults maybe not able to remove masks and feel shame to show their faces. What we would like to suggest, in order to take them off little by little without difficulty and return to a bare-faced life, is to have dine with close friends and colleagues.

Of course everyone takes off their masks when eating and drinking. Open your mouth, eat and drink well, smile and enjoy the conversation. If you can feel that it is nice to be able to see the others's expressions, your resistance to returning to bare face lifestyle will gradually fade away.

Unfortunately, some schools still continue "silent lunch", where students take school lunches in silence. Enjoying conversation with friends during lunch is one kind of children's human right. We hope it will not be undermined.

6.We hope the staff, clerks and workers give services with bright smiles

"Faceless customer service" still continues in supermarkets, department stores, electronics stores, banks, government offices, libraries, public transportation, and everywhere else in Japan. Masks covering the nose and mouth hide more than half of a person's facial expression. Even if he or she is smiling, the other person cannot see the smile because of wearing mask. It gives us chilly, impassive and unfriendly.

On the other hand, smile has the effect of transmitting positive emotions to the people around us. If you look at TV commercials, magazine advertisements, or websites, you can see that store staff or office personnel all have smiles on their faces. Don't we all know, in truth, that a bare face is more cheerful and gives a better image?

Of course, some companies and stores have already switched to serving customers without masks. How long will we continue to hide our faces? Is that really good for our society? We are looking forward to waiting the decisions from leaders such as executives, store chiefs, and facility managers.

7.Hiding faces make others anxious. Let us see your faces in terms of crime prevention

There is another major reason we recommend barefaced. That is the issue of security. In this age, there maybe few obvious suspocious people like wearing full-faced masks or sunglasses plus masks. But we are worried that a society where it is commonplace to hide their faces easily, give some kinds of benefit for criminals.

From the standpoint of crime prevention, police officers who keep the city, couriers, construction workers, and sales staff who usually visit each home, let us feel safer by show their faces.

"Don't follow strangers." We usually say to children as safety education. But if everyone hides their faces more than necessary, it will be difficult to distinguish who is who. Even if neighbours give greeting, they can't judge whether strangers or not. Relationships that we can see each other's faces are what will keep the community safe.

8.School absenteeism and suicides have increased. Pay attention to the mental health!

There is sad news that school absenteeism and suicides among elementary, junior high, and high school students have increased and remained high due to Covid-19. Of course there are many facotors, including the cancellation or curtailment of school events or the economic situation of families. But we are concerned that the prolonged use of masks is also having a significant impact.

There are two major differences between adults and children regarding the mask issue. At first children are still developing, both physically and mentally. At second children have the opportunity to change environments and make new relationships much more frequently than adults.

When children move up to the next grade, they meet a lot of new friends and teachers. At that time, if everyone around they is wearing mask and hiding face, it will be difficult to remember his or her name. Some children may not be able to read facial expressions, may not fit in with their friends, and may become withdrawn. We may be neglecting our children's mental health too much, aren't we?

9.Taking masks off to communicate kindley with kids, foreigners and hearing impaired

Bare-faced communication is also desirable from the perspective of diversity.

Face-to-face communication is very important for infants and children during their formative years. More than learning words, they learn how to interact with others and how to interact with society by looking at the expressions on others' faces, whether they are smiling or angry. Please take off your mask in front of small children and talk to them with your real face.

The number of foreigners living in Japan is increasing every year, and many of them are not fluent in Japanese. Anyone who has been abroad at least once is supposed to know that we can be reassured by the smilig faces of others if we don't speak their language. We are able to communicate each other through gestures and facial expressions. Of course, when welcoming foreign visitors to Japan, smiling is the first step toward "Omotenashi" (hospitality).

Masks are also major impediment to communication for the hearing impaired. They cannot read facial expressions, nor lips. Do you know upcoming Tokyo Deaflympics in 2025, the Olympic games for the hearing impaired athelets? We are concerned that how will the over-masked society look to the world's people.

10.Consider the pros and cons of masks on the beauty, health, and environmental issues

We sometimes hear one of the reasons why the wearing of masks has spread so widely is that wearing a mask makes one's face look beautiful and fashionable. But is it really true?

It has been pointed out that wearing a mask continuously causes mouth breathing, which worsens oral hygiene and lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Various effects are also said to be seen, such as rough skin and acne, temporomandibular joint disorder, and facial deterioration due to reduced muscle movement. Temporary wearing is not worrisome, but regular use may cause harmful effect.

We have often seen masks littered on the streets since Covid-19. Nonwoven fabric masks are made of plastic resin, not paper. Therefore, they cannot be easily returned to nature. In this age of SDGs, the mass consumption of masks needs to be reviewed from the perspective of protecting the natural environment.

11.Don't ignore the mask problems. Shall we trigger national discussion?

We are not denying the use of masks at all. It is desirable to wear them appropriately when you catch a cold, have hay fever, working in food factories, during cleaning, in operating room of hospital or other truly necessary situation.

What we'd like to say loudly is that there are many places whree the peer pressure of wearing masks exist, even it is said to be optional. We also hope that all Japanese people think seriously about the mental health effects of keeping one's face hidden, especially on the future of our children.

Unfortunately, until now, this issue has rarely been addressed in the political or media arena. We urge everyone to discuss sincerely with around people at work, at school and at home. How long do we continue such days without seeing other's face? We wish our action will trigger a national discussion.

>> We are looking forward to hearing from you !