• Jiji


The government will use Japan Post Co.’s large-scale delivery system to distribute two cloth masks to every household in the country starting this week — part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to defeat the novel coronavirus.

The masks will be distributed via Japan Post’s Town Plus service, which the company says delivers ads and other items into the mailboxes of all registered addresses in a given area.

To register an address, one must submit a notice to the local post office. Masks will not be delivered to unregistered addresses.

Japan Post has some 60 million households registered in its nationwide database.

But some are thought to be vacant. Delivery personnel check with landlords and building managers when they suspect houses have been empty for long periods of time. But delivery personnel might be unable to detect houses that were recently vacated.

“We can’t say there will be no deliveries to vacated houses,” a Japan Post official said.

Japan Post has over 100,000 delivery personnel at its 1,100 branches nationwide.

Delivery personnel do not confirm whether people actually retrieve the items that are delivered, and at times they get stolen.

The official said people with new mailboxes might be spared from this. “Recent mailboxes have depth, so it is unlikely for items put inside to be taken out,” the official said.

Distributing Abe’s masks, which will cost some ¥46.6 billion in taxpayer money, has been criticized by lawmakers in both the ruling and opposition camps as a waste of money.

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