Because no country has a monopoly on terrible ideas.
What is No Mask Picnic Day?
National No Mask Picnic Day (全国同時ノーマスクピクニックディー) was conceived by… someone who thought that wearing masks for so long was becoming a nuisance, and wanted to encourage many like-minded people across the nation to ditch their masks for a picnic on May 1-2 to help kick off the major Golden Week holiday.
The mission? Get people out, en masse, to various parks around the country in as many prefectures as possible to show the government and those wearing their masks dutifully that they weren’t going to be bossed around by those in power. They wanted to live, laugh, and love on a sunny day with their faces out for all to see. They set out to Twitter to muster some troops and get the ball rolling.
Their plans, however, were not met with the near-universal praise they may have expected. In fact, many people were outraged by the event, calling on the government to shut them down, while many more scolded them and tried to convince them that this was all a terrible, terrible idea.
Twitter was aflutter with discussion, and eventually the anti-anti-maskers won out, and the event was abruptly called off.
The Event is Cancelled… but Not For the Reason You May Think
After the Twitter storm, trending hashtags, and coverage by many mainstream websites like Yahoo News Japan, the Mainichi, and Japan News Today, the heat was on. They were getting a lot of criticism and bad press and something had to give. The organizers decided to shut down the event, calling for a total cancellation (全面中止) of the event. It began trending on Twitter once more as the event organizers updated their website.
Their website, a simple Google website, now only displays a single message, dated April 20, 2021 at 17:30. I translated via Google translate for your convenience (preferring not to just rip it from other news sources):
Regarding the implementation of the simultaneous no-mask picnic day nationwide * As a result of considering the personal safety of the participants, as many personal slanderous injuries were seen due to the unexpected spread and coverage, the entire project was completed. It will be canceled. For children who are affected by their inability to see each other’s facial expressions, children who have become mask addicted, and babies who are just developing face recognition, we are in a world without masks. I want to let you. This is the feeling of the planner / supporter. I decided to launch this event because I thought that accepting excessive measures against infectious diseases without questioning the corona turmoil would have a great adverse effect on the growth of children. We will continue to walk with conviction for the smiles of children and the future of Japan. I hope that as soon as possible, everyone will return to their original life, where they can spend their time freely, having fun and smiling in full bloom.No Mask Picnic Website, translated via Google Translate
The reason they cancelled? They feared for their own safety and the safety of participants due to slander, not the global pandemic.
I find the bit where they show concern for children to be a bit laughable, almost an after-thought, thrown in there to save face and show they had noble intentions. A quick Google search will give you summaries of scientific research saying masks won’t stunt a child’s emotional development, as well as journalism investigating strategies to overcome difficulties with mask communication. Plus, you know, parents aren’t wearing masks at home, only when going out, which is such a small part of most people’s days now because of lockdowns and states of emergency.
No matter where you are in the world, there are people who will always distrust authority, be that political, scientific, religious, medical, or educational. These times are difficult and, yes, inconvenient. But we are living through history right now, a period of time that will be written about and students will study. Let’s not leave a legacy that makes them facepalm in disbelief, shall we?