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Editorial: Prioritize expediting supply of daily necessities to alleviate public concern

  • March 4, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 1:21 p.m.
  • English Press

The spread of the new coronavirus has led to a nationwide shortage of not only masks, but also toilet paper and tissues. The public and private sectors must do their part to expedite efforts to bring the situation back to normal.

 

Rumors about toilet paper and the like in that “they are made from the same material as masks” and “there won’t be any imports from China” spread on social media and triggered the disorder.

 

None of these rumors are true. The materials are different from that of masks and most paper products are made in Japan. It is said that there is enough stock. Checking with reliable sources of information and acting calmly are necessary.

 

On social media, one photo after another of empty store shelves are being uploaded. After seeing the photos, even people who don’t believe the rumors rush to buy the items. As a result, in some areas, it has become difficult to obtain other products such as diapers, rice and instant noodles.

 

To break the negative chain of events that is increasing anxiety, the government must give the utmost priority to solving the shortage.

 

In particular, toilet paper is a daily necessity. Currently, long lines form outside shops even before they open and the products sell out as soon as they arrive. Under these circumstances, the public will hardly be free from anxiety even if industry groups say that they have stock.

 

Paper manufacturers are encouraged to release as much inventory as possible and try to increase production. The government is urged to support smooth deliveries.

 

Make more use of 1973 law

 

However, though the production of masks and alcohol-based disinfectants are supposed to be increasing, their shortage has not been resolved. This is a more serious situation. Even masks used by medical practitioners have not been adequately supplied to hospitals. Improving this situation is an urgent task.

 

The government has said it will purchase masks from manufacturers and deliver them to local governments in Hokkaido based on a law to allowing emergency measures for stabilizing the public’s living conditions.

 

This law was enacted in 1973 during the first oil crisis. At that time, toilet paper and other goods were bought up, so the government aimed to stabilize the supply of items that were indispensable to daily life and curb rising prices.

 

There is a limit to how quickly the private sector can solve the shortage of masks and disinfectants without government assistance. Further use of the law is worth considering.

 

Consumers are urged to act with moderation. They should refrain from acts of buying everything up or buying for resale.

 

Hospitals, nursing homes and those related to these facilities should have high priority when these products are delivered. There are also many people suffering from hay fever during this time.

 

The fact cannot be overlooked that scarce products are being sold at very high prices online. Online retailers and auctioneers should immediately remove items considered problematic under socially accepted conventions.

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