Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently pledged to distribute free cloth masks to every household in the nation to battle coronavirus pandemic, however, he was flamed on social media for not declaring a state of emergency instead. According to an international media outlet, Abe’s decision to provide a cloth mask came after experts warned that Japan is on the brink of a medical crisis as the number of cases is rapidly increasing in the nation. Soon after him announcing that the masks will be sent to each of Japan’s more than 50 million households, internet users took to Twitter to criticise his handling of the crisis.
With growing frustration among citizens, #AbeMask became a trending hashtag on April 2. One Twitter user wrote, “Is the Japanese government for real? This is a total waste of tax money”. Another user wrote, “I will make two masks myself. Don't give them to me. Use the money for something else”.
Here’s a #haiku about #ShinzoAbe’s mask plan:— Sposhed (@sposhed) April 2, 2020
New mask pure as snow
Until I cough up covid
Great there’s a spare one#abemaskhaiku #mask #coronavirusjapan #covid19japan #abemask #covid19 #coronavirus #マスク2枚
The differences are interesting as an Australian living in Japan... Japan has closed schools all month but that's basically all they're doing. Australia has done so much more physical distancing shutdown work but yet not schools... Oh, and now in Japan we'll get 2 masks! #AbeMask— Where Next Japan (@WhereNextJapan) April 2, 2020
According to reports, Japan ministers including Abe have said that it was not yet time to declare a state of emergency. The Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has Aldo defended the initiative by Abe and reportedly said that it would help ease demand for a surgical mask. Further explaining said that the masks are estimated to cost about $1.86 each, which could make the cost of the program $372 million before shipping.
Earlier this week, as Tokyo’s coronavirus cases spiked, several questions were raised about whether the authorities understated the extent of the outbreak. The sudden spike in confirmed cases had also raised questions whether officials delayed enforcement of self-isolating and social distancing measures in hope that Olympics 2020 would start as scheduled. The former Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama in a tweet also said that the authorities waited too long. Further adding, “It was Olympics first, not Tokyo’s residents”.
Currently, Japan has more than 2,300 confirmed Coronavirus cases and the deadly virus has already claimed more than 57 lives in the country. Even though Abe also warned people to ‘be prepared for a long battle’, he still hasn’t announced a state of emergency. Although, amidst the rising number of cases, Japan banned all foreigners travelling on a US passport. According to reports, the Japanese Foreign Ministry will be raising the infectious disease warning in regards to the United States to Level 3, in a 4-tier grading scale wherein Level 4 is the most serious warning. The Ministry is also expected to advise Japanese nationals to cancel any planned trips to the United States.