National

City that makes a third of Japan's toilet paper flooded by tax donations amid rumor-driven buying binge

JIJI

For one city in Shizuoka Prefecture, panic-buying has evolved into panic-donating.

Fuji has seen a rush of donations through the furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation system) from people hoping to secure toilet and tissue paper as return gifts amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Donations to the city, which produces around 30 percent of the toilet paper made in Japan, increased sharply after false rumors spread on social media that the outbreak might lead to shortages of such items.

From Feb. 28 to March 1, the Fuji Municipal Government received some 1,330 donations, exceeding the 1,160 received during the whole of February last year.

The city drew attention after panic-buying caused by the rumors started emptying store shelves of toilet and tissue paper in several cities.

After receiving over 500 donations on Feb. 28 alone, the city began rejecting some of the donations due to the difficulty of supplying the return gifts.

Over the three-day period, the city collected some ¥22 million in donations, compared with ¥250 million for all of fiscal 2018.

With the situation stabilizing, donations to the city have fallen back to about 100 a day.

“We’re grateful for receiving donations and drawing public attention to our regional specialties,” a Fuji official said. “But we hope people will act calmly because factories have stocks.”

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