comscore Millions of unused cloth masks remain in storage in Japan | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
News

Millions of unused cloth masks remain in storage in Japan

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2020
                                Then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe removes a face mask before speaking at a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo. Nearly 83 million, or nearly one-third, of unpopular cloth masks that were too small and old-fashioned and remembered as “Abenomasks” by the public last year were unused and mothballed in a private storage for a hefty rent.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2020

    Then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe removes a face mask before speaking at a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo. Nearly 83 million, or nearly one-third, of unpopular cloth masks that were too small and old-fashioned and remembered as “Abenomasks” by the public last year were unused and mothballed in a private storage for a hefty rent.

TOKYO >> Tens of millions of unpopular cloth masks produced as an anti-coronavirus measure under former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remain unused and are being kept in a private storage facility at a cost of hundreds of millions of yen (millions of dollars), an official acknowledged today.

About 83 million of the cloth masks, called “Abenomasks,” are in storage, or nearly one-third of the 280 million procured by the government during a severe shortage of surgical masks last year. The government had planned to distribute two to every household.

Few people actually used the masks. Abe modeled one, which barely covered his nose and mouth. People complained that they were too small and arrived too late, when more effective and comfortable surgical masks were back in stock.

The leftovers currently in storage are worth 11.5 billion yen ($97 million) and their storage cost 600 million yen ($5.3 million) between last August and March this year, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said at a regular news conference.

Isozaki said about 130 million were distributed to households but those intended for nursing homes and childcare facilities were delivered in response to requests and a big stockpile remained.

He insisted that the mask campaign was “appropriate at that time” when there was a shortage of surgical masks. He said the government would consider possible use of the leftover masks “as needed.”

The mask campaign was also temporarily suspended due to quality problems. Some had stains, tiny bugs and other contamination in their packaging.

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up