Japanese gov. to distribute ‘Abenomask’ stockpile

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Masks supplied by the government are seen at a post office in Tokyo before being distributed in April 2020.

Surplus face masks procured by the administration of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be distributed to local governments and individuals who want them, the government has announced.

Since March 2020, the government has secured a total of 287 million face masks for distribution to nursing homes and other facilities, as a measure against the coronavirus pandemic. However, about 82 million were still in stock at the end of March this year, and their storage costs have become an issue.

The masks were sarcastically called “Abenomask,” a reference to the former prime minister’s Abenomics economic policy package, partly because of the high expense involved in obtaining them.

“[The masks] will be used for disaster stockpiling and distribution to local residents,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Wednesday. However, a source close to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said ultimately some would have to be thrown away.