Ban replaces opportunity to make a profit with chance to end up behind bars.

Japan likes entrepreneurship as much as the next free-market economy, but the ongoing coronavirus crisis is a special circumstance. Personal-use panic-buying of masks was already making the situation bad enough, but once would-be resellers starting buying them in bulk to offer for inflated prices online, masks have become all but impossible to find in stores, with shipments selling out as soon as they’re put on shelves.

With masks now being elevated to the status of public health items, not just a way to keep hay fever sufferers from a few extra sniffles, the Japanese government has decided that enough is enough, and on March 10 members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet voted to officially enact a ban on the resale of masks.

Though not a blanket prohibition, the ban, enacted as part of Japan’s Act on Emergency Measures for Stabilizing Living Conditions of the Public, criminalizes the resale of masks at prices above their procurement price. In other words, people can still resell masks, but are prohibited from marking the price up to anything more than what they originally paid for them. The hope is that by removing the profit potential of resales, people will only buy whatever amount they personally need, since there’s no money to be made by flipping extra masks online. Under the ban violators can be thrown in prison for as long as one year and fined as much as one million yen (US$9,700), which are actually lighter penalties than the five-year/three million-yen limits allowed under the Act on Emergency Measures for Stabilizing Living Conditions of the Public.

The ban only affects individual resellers, as mask manufacturers and licensed wholesalers and retailers are exempt from the no-profit rule. The Japanese government has also been procuring and distributing masks to towns in Hokkaido with especially high risks of coronavirus infection.

The resale ban goes into effect on March 15.

Source: Jiji via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso (1, 2) (edited by SoraNews24)
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