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2 Tokyo wards to start free sanitary product supply at some public bathrooms

This photo shows a free sanitary pad dispenser in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, on June 23, 2021. (Mainichi/Kazuo Yanagisawa)

TOKYO -- In a bid to ease the financial burden from women's sanitary products and help people who suddenly need them, the capital's Nakano and Toshima wards will from August distribute free sanitary pads via special dispensers at women's restrooms, in the first initiative of its kind among Japanese municipalities.

    To receive the pads, users need to download a specialized app and register their email address, occupation and birth year. When a user activates it at a sanitary pad dispenser's location and brings their phone up close to the device, an about two-minute ad plays as a sanitary pad is simultaneously dispensed.

    The system comes at no cost to the wards. To install them, both have signed agreements with the same business using advertising revenue to cover sanitary product purchases and installation costs.

    The devices will be installed in 19 stalls at women's restrooms in the Nakano Ward Office, while 14 will be installed at stalls in women's bathrooms at the Toshima Ward Office, as well as at its gender equality promotion center and municipal community center.

    Saori Ozawa, manager of the Toshima Ward's children and youth division, explained the project's aims: "We want to ease the burden of sudden menstruation, not being able to get sanitary pads, and other problems only women face."

    (Japanese original by Haruka Kobayashi, Tokyo Bureau, and Kazuo Yanagisawa, Tokyo City News Department)

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