The government is pushing ahead with the distribution of its much derided masks even though commercially made masks are now readily available, prompting a renewed outcry on social media.
Dubbed the “Abenomask,” which means Abe’s mask and is a pun on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Abenomics program, the washable gauze mask has been criticized as ill-fitting with quality issues and as a waste of public money.
First introduced amid a mask shortage as the coronavirus spread in Japan, some 130 million have been distributed to households and the government is still working on sending out 80 million of a planned 157 million to facilities such as nursing homes and day care centers.
“Using taxes like this is no laughing matter,” comedian Zenjiro said in a Twitter post. His tweet was one of more than a hundred thousand after an Asahi newspaper report about the continued distribution of the masks.
着けていると、物珍しさに “必ずイジられる” アベノマスクですが、こっそりもう８千万枚、504億円を使って配り続けてるんですね。もう芸人でさえ、どう突っ込んでいいか分からないレベルの壮大なボケですね（笑）これに税金が使われてると思うとシャレにならないですけどね…。https://t.co/hlAWS31HFB
— ぜんじろう (@zenzenjiro) July 27, 2020
Asked about the program, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “The masks are relatively low cost and help curb demand.”
Japan is seeing rising coronavirus infection numbers as it increases testing and opens up its economy. As of Monday, Tokyo had logged more than 200 new cases in six of the last seven days. The capital confirmed around 270 further cases on Tuesday, the Nikkei business daily reported.
A Kyodo news agency poll this month found that around two thirds of respondents were in favor of a reintroduction of a state of emergency.
I don’t think I’ve even seen one single person wearing an abenomask… what an absolute waste of yen
— mimi💧💧 (@miiccche) July 28, 2020
— 柳家小春 (@isonoyoko) July 28, 2020
(1/2) When I find an unbelievable artIcle via yahoo news, saying second “AbenoMask” policy will be initiated. Then a single simple idea popped up in my mind, which is “Are they(jp govt) insane?” I hope it is a kind of possibility.#abenomask
— Yuta (@o_yuta) July 27, 2020
— H. Ross Kawamura (@Heydar_Ross_K) July 27, 2020
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