• Jiji


The distribution of government-issued cloth face masks that are to be provided to every household in the country in the effort to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak began in Tokyo on Friday.

Post office mail delivery personnel in Setagaya Ward, which has the largest population among the 23 wards in the capital, dropped off two masks at each home, along with instructions on how to wash the protective items .

“It’s thicker than I thought,” an 81-year-old woman in the Komazawa district of the ward said as she retrieved the face masks delivered to her house from a plastic bag.

“I wanted something slightly bigger, but I shouldn’t complain,” the woman said as she tried a mask on.

“We have enough masks at home, so I am thinking about donating” the masks, a 34-year-old woman said.

“They are bulkier than I imagined, so there’s only so many I can carry at once,” a male delivery staff member said.

Deliveries will be rolled out in other municipalities and prefectures at a later date.

The face masks cost about ¥200 apiece. The final price tag for the government will be around ¥46.6 billion, including for procurement and delivery.

The project has drawn questions and criticisms from both ruling and opposition parties. Some have taken to calling the masks “Abenomasks,” a pun on Abe’s key economic policy mix, Abenomics.

Online marketplace operators Mercari Inc. and Yahoo Japan Corp. have banned the sale of the cloth face masks on their platforms.

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