TOKYO -- Japan's top government spokesman revealed in a news conference on June 1 that the total cost of the national government's initiative to send cloth masks to all households in the country will reach around 26 billion yen (about $241.96 million), down from the initial estimate of 46.6 billion yen (about $433.68 million).
As of May 29, 48 million masks had been distributed -- only about 37% of the total of 130 million masks set aside for the handout program. Although the national government had originally planned to deliver the masks to all households in May, distribution was delayed after the government boosted inspections of the masks following the discovery of mold and other defects.
Regarding the amount of contracts with distributors and other businesses, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained, "Costs for supplying the masks are estimated to total 18.4 billion yen, while delivery expenses are estimated to reach 7.6 billion yen." Touching on the numerous cases in which delivered cloth masks have been donated, Suga said, "It is something to be decided by each family, but since the masks can be reused numerous times after washing them, I would like for them to be used in that direction."
(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)