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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that no national lawmaker or regional assembly member served as a go-between in the government’s selection of companies to provide cloth face masks to households in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We sought companies in a wide range of fields and selected (suppliers) from the viewpoint of quality, price and the capability of providing (masks) and responding swiftly (to the government’s request),” Suga told a news conference.

The government is planning to distribute two cloth face masks per household to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Separately, Suga said Monday that the government has placed an order with a company based in the city of Fukushima, along with three other firms, to provide cloth face masks for pregnant women.

The government has so far sent some 500,000 cloth face masks to expectant mothers, but stopped the distribution after some of them turned out to be discolored or have been packed with foreign objects.

Shigeru Hiyama, president of the Fukushima company, said Monday that his company concluded a contract with a plant in Vietnam and had the factory produce 3.5 million cloth face masks, and no complaint has been made about the quality of the products.

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