For more than two years, many children in Japan spend their lunch break in silence instead of talking to their classmates. This regulation was introduced in 2020 to prevent infection with the coronavirus. Instead of the usual practice, students should not sit across from each other when eating in the classroom, but should sit at individual tables in the same direction and refrain from conversations, it was said at the time.
Due to the falling number of infections in June of this year, school authorities in the prefectures of Miyazaki and Fukuoka had already lifted the ban on speaking at primary and secondary schools, and the prefecture of Aichi followed suit in November. In addition, there were more and more objections that the regulation could have a negative impact on the social development of young children in particular. However, according to Japanese media reports, many schools have decided to let their students continue to eat in silence, even without official instructions from the school authorities, out of fear of infection.
Meanwhile, some other restrictions, for example on restaurants or the entry of tourists, have been lifted. Maho Ono, a mother whose daughter also suffers from the lunchtime speaking ban, criticized the inequality to the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi. Above all, adults would benefit from the lifting of many restrictions, for example, they could eat again largely without restrictions - the fact that many children are not allowed to talk to their friends at lunchtime is incomprehensible, she criticizes. Therefore, she has submitted a petition to the Ministries of Health and Education to finally abolish the regulation.
Quellen: "The Guardian", "The Mainichi"