Photo/Illutration Many commuters wear masks at JR Shinagawa Station in Tokyo on the morning of March 13. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)

Around 74 percent of Japanese people have continued wearing face masks as usual even after the government eased the COVID-19-related protocol on March 13, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

In the survey conducted on March 18 and 19, 74 percent of respondents said the “occasions when they wear masks did not decrease” after March 13, while 23 percent said such occasions have “decreased.”

The rate of respondents who replied “decreased” was 33 percent among those between 18 and 29 years old. By gender, 29 percent of men and 17 percent of women were wearing masks less often.

Of the respondents who have continued wearing masks as usual, 50 percent said the reason was “to prevent infections,” while 21 percent cited “pollen allergies.

Fifteen percent said mask wearing has “become a habit,” while 10 percent said they are using the protection “because people around me wear it.”

Sixty percent of respondents in their 60s and 60 percent in their 70s and older said they have kept wearing masks to prevent infections.

But among the mask wearers in their 30s and younger, only about 30 percent cited COVID-19 prevention as the reason.

Twenty-nine percent of those between 18 and 29 and 33 percent of respondents in their 30s listed pollen allergies as the reason for continuing to wear masks.

The survey was conducted by contacting fixed telephone numbers and mobile phone numbers selected at random by computer.

The survey takers received 506 valid responses, or 52 percent, from 981 fixed numbers of households with at least one eligible voter each.

There were 798 valid responses, or 37 percent, from 2,178 mobile phone numbers of eligible voters. Valid responses totaled 1,304.