JAPAN APRIL 2, 2020 / 6:19 AM / UPDATED 7 HOURS AGO Two masks, no lo＊down: Japan PM's latest coronavirus step riles social media Elaine Lies, Linda Sieg
TOKYO (Reuters) - Facing calls to declare a coronavirus state of emergency, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was derided on social media on Thursday for instead offering people cloth masks, pointing to growing frustration with his handling of the crisis.
Abe’s offer of free masks - two per household - came the day after experts had warned Japan was on the brink of a medical crisis as cases rose, especially in Tokyo. The prime minister said on Wednesday Japan was “barely holding the line” in its battle against the virus.
The prime minister launched his offer to send cloth masks out while wearing one at a meeting of a government task force late on Wednesday. The masks will be sent to all of Japan’s more than 50 million households starting the week after next, first to areas seeing a spike in cases.
Critics say he should act now on a state of emergency, fearing a spike in infections after crowds gathered in some places for traditional cherry-blossom viewing parties last month, despite calls to stay at home.
Abe’s wife, Akie, was blasted after pictures emerged of her at one such event, but Abe defended her, saying it was a private gathering at a restaurant. (リンク先に続きあり)