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Japan relaxes mask guidelines in COVID milestone

Masked faces still abound after government makes wearing them a personal choice

Mostly masked commuters stream out of Tokyo's Shinagawa Station on March 13. (Photo by Yuki Kohara) 

TOKYO -- Japan on Monday relaxed its guidance on wearing masks as a COVID-19 prevention measure, in a milestone for a country that was arguably the global face of masking during the pandemic.

Now, in most situations, the decision of whether to wear a mask is up to the individual. The change took effect exactly three years after Japan passed a law on special measures against the coronavirus, which allowed the government to declare a state of emergency.

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