THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
April 10, 2020 at 16:38 JST
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adjusts his mask at a Diet committee on April 1. (Takeshi Iwashita)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to provide two cloth masks for each household, an anti-coronavirus measure that was ridiculed on social media, will cost 46.6 billion yen ($424 million), according to a government estimate.
The government intends to distribute the masks first to areas under the state of emergency declared by Abe, such as Tokyo.
To cover the costs of the measure, including delivery fees, the government will use 23.3 billion yen from the reserved funds for fiscal 2020 and earmark 23.3 billion yen in the supplementary budget for that fiscal year.
Posts on social media questioned the effectiveness of the measure, while others made light of plan, calling it “Abenomask,” a play on the prime minister’s “Abenomics” economic policy package.
The government stressed the benefits of the two-mask plan.
“If 100 million masks are each used 20 times after being washed, it would save 2 billion single-use masks,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on April 9. “This amount is equal to the masks used for four or five months in normal times.”
He reiterated that amid the shortage of single-use masks, “there are no replaceable measures” in terms of cost-performance.
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