Japanese government persists with ‘Abenomask’ giveaway, reignites social media outcry
TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese government is continuing to distribute its much-derided masks, even as commercially-made masks are now readily available, sparking further outcry on social media.
Dubbed ‘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 unsuitable for quality issues and wasteful public money.
First introduced amid a shortage of masks as the coronavirus spread in Japan, some 130 million have been distributed to households and the government is still working to send 80 million of the planned 157 million to establishments. such as nursing homes and day care centres.
“Using taxes like this is no laughing matter,” comedian Zenjiro said in a post on Twitter. His tweet was one of more than a hundred thousand after an Asahi newspaper article about the continued distribution of the masks.
Asked about the program, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “Masks are relatively inexpensive and help curb demand.”
Japan is seeing a rise in the number of coronavirus infections as it ramps up testing and opens up its economy. As of Monday, Tokyo had recorded more than 200 new cases in six of the past seven days. The capital confirmed around 270 new cases on Tuesday, the Nikkei business daily reported.
A Kyodo News Agency poll this month found that around two-thirds of those polled favored a reintroduction of the state of emergency.
Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Edwina Gibbs