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My wife is Japanese and I lived in Japan for 6 years.

The main reason I've been informed by family and friends for wearing the masks, is to prevent others from catching their cold/flu, as a courtesy.

I don't think that article (which I've read before) is a particularly good one - in my opinion it highlights the 'outlier' reasons rather than what in my experience is the main reason, cited above.

The article does cite that reason.

> A second global flu epidemic in 1934 cemented Japan’s love affair with the facemask, which began to be worn with regularity during the winter months—primarily, given Japan’s obsession with social courtesy, by cough-and-cold victims seeking to avoid transmitting their germs to others, rather than healthy people looking to prevent the onset of illness.

It does mention it, but the impression I get from actually having lived in Japan for a while is that this is the main reason, but the article has it sort of buried amongst the numerous 'outlier' reasons.

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