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crime

Reselling masks in Japan could get you five years in prison under new government ban

59 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The coronavirus crisis has made surgical masks the most coveted commodity in Japan. Retailers have begun posting notices at the entrance to their stores letting everyone know that they’re sold out, in order to keep customers from flagging down sales staff and insisting that they check in the back to make sure they really don’t have any back there (no one is posting “Masks in stock!” signs because, well, they sell out in less time than it would take to put the sign up).

The situation has gotten so bad that both robberies and fist fights have taken place as some people resort to extreme means to obtain masks. However, the goal of those brawlers likely isn’t to secure a personal-use supply, but to resell them at grossly inflated prices online. The Japanese government is about to put a stop to mask resales, though, though, and potentially with long prison sentences for those who ignore the restriction.

This week, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare ordered domestic mask manufacturers and importers to sell four million masks to the ministry, which will be distributing them to households in the Hokkaido towns of Naka-Furano and Kitami, two especially high-risk communities for coronavirus infection. The order was issued in compliance with the Act on Emergency Measures for Stabilizing Living Conditions of the Public, which was adopted as a framework to stabilize prices following the 1973 oil shock, but is only now for the first time actually being used to supply goods to consumers.

The law also gives the Japanese government the authority to ban the resale of masks, which it is expected to exercise next week. Of course, a prohibition with no punishment isn’t going to do anything, but article 26 of the act allows punishment for resellers to be as high as a fine of three million yen or up to five years in prison.

No specific penalties have been outlined for those who might attempt to buy resold masks, but ostensibly if the seller gets caught, the buyer won’t receive the goods, and probably shouldn’t expect a refund, so the best bet is probably still to check at actual stores (and even if you don’t find any masks for sale you might find a new love).

Source: FNN Prime via Otakomu, Asahi Shimbun

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese government may encourage people to reuse masks as coronavirus-caused shortage continues

-- Kobe hospital robbed of 6,000 surgical masks

-- Kyoto anime store shuts down suspected Chinese reseller’s attempted Evangelion bulk-order

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

59 Comments
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if you are going to make laws, think there are bigger fish to fry so to speak.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I think this is a good move. Go after the scum who are trying to profit from people's fear.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

reselling masks; up to 5 years

reselling manga/anime; up to 10 years

sexual assault/upskirt

9 ( +11 / -2 )

About time they did something about this.

Now all they need to do is enforce it... Won't hold my breath though.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I'm glad they're doing something, it's overkill but I'd rather that than nothing...

Toilet paper next please!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

About time...I for one agree with this move.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Up to ¥3mil for reselling masks or up to 5 years in prison. But disregarding workers rights by companies only nets them a ¥500k fine. Lol. Comical.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Cricky

if you are going to make laws

It seems they are not going to make law, just activating an emergency measure pack of laws

The order was issued in compliance with the Act on Emergency Measures for Stabilizing Living Conditions of the Public, which was adopted as a framework to stabilize prices following the 1973 oil shock

So they had that one in stock since the beginning and choose to activate it now. What to say ...

¯(°_o)/¯

Thought I am not fond of the resell ban, as long as it is in market price that is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Reselling masks in Japan could get you five years in prison

That is insane. I am no friend of scalpers, but this punishment is completely out of proportion. More senseless panic.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

With all the resell hoarders yes this punishment is apt. Apply it to other goods as well.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

But no penalty for this??

https://soranews24.com/2020/03/06/7-eleven-in-japan-sells-masks-for-ridiculously-high-price-gets-slammed-by-customers/

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Good! How about toilet rolls too?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What if you pick up all the masks littering the streets, wsh them and sell them?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Capitalism in full effect. Surely you should be applauding such entrepreneurship?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Now all the SCUMS on Amazon and Yahoo shopping can return the hundreds of thousands of masks they robbed the needy from back to the stores.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Now all the SCUMS on Amazon and Yahoo shopping can return the hundreds of thousands of masks they robbed the needy from back to the stores.

Would they get their money back? If so, that would be reselling and they would be subject to fines and possible imprisonment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would they get their money back? If so, that would be reselling and they would be subject to fines and possible imprisonment.

Nope. They'd simply be returning goods for a refund. Have you never shopped before?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So now you will get punished for normal commercial activity and even more daft you will be punished for reselling something that will do no good to the gullible (oh sorry that includes the Government in Japan who are advocating the use of masks). Better than enacting unnecessary and draconian laws, discourage the unnecessary use of masks and solve the problem!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, for one as I can't find a Mask to buy anywhere, I happen to say "Great News" ! Can they do the same for Toilet paper too please ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wot? Good luck with that! There is very little they can do! Ever heard of The Dark Web?

Or even 8 Chan will do it. Heck, even a private Line group.

Idiots.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Also, while that than that pathetic law that won't achieve a thing, how about cracking down on legit online sellers like Amazon. I was disgusted. A lack of 50 for 30,000 yen. Then when they got flack (presumably from the authorities) the same masks offered at normal price, but 20,000-30,000 in shipping fees!

And Rakuten, I'm also looking at you , too!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wot? Good luck with that! There is very little they can do! Ever heard of The Dark Web?

Many people haven't, wouldn't know where to begin with it (either buying or selling), nor be able to do it.

But you seem to be saying that if the law isn't 100% effective, it's 100% ineffective.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Would they get their money back? If so, that would be reselling

No it wouldn't.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Isn’t every retailer technically a reseller?

What if I buy masks at Costco (technically Wholesale), will I go to jail if I resell them?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What if I buy masks at Costco (technically Wholesale), will I go to jail if I resell them?

If you gouge the prices.

But like scalpers its illegal to resell concert/event tickets for rip off prices.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What if I buy masks at Costco (technically Wholesale), will I go to jail if I resell them?

Yes. Because the Japanese want Costco to be punished.

Note: Russian logic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

https://page.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/457255949

Doesn't seem to be working well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you gouge the prices.

Who decides what a "gouge" price is?

7-11 is allowed to make a profit by buying masks wholesale and reselling them at a higher price.

Why can't I do the same?

Oh Yeah, 7-11 can afford a government lobbyist, I can't.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Who decides what a "gouge" price is?

It's qualified by the new law.

Costco and 7-11 aren't covered.

Maybe you should read the law instead of asking a bunch of useless questions. It comes across as very Russian troll-farmy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Stranger,

I thought Costco was a wholesaler, meaning that's perfectly legal to buy from them and resell the same product on the retail market.

Am I wrong?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Am I wrong?

Not about that point you just made, which has nothing to do with the law in question.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not about that point you just made, which has nothing to do with the law in question.

So do you think buying the masks from a wholesaler (Costco) and reselling them at a profit on the retail market is breaking the law?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So do you think buying the masks from a wholesaler (Costco) and reselling them at a profit on the retail market is breaking the law?

Why you put words in my mouth bro?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Err... so then it's ok to buy from Costco and resell then?

Just trying to get a straight answer here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I’d be surprised if the new law doesn’t exempt registered retail businesses. As for reselling COSTCO masks, I suspect it would depend upon your status as a reseller - registered business, or just an opportunist.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article is missing important information. The law is to prevent at reselling at exorbitant prices. Resellers on Amazon etc have been trying to sell mask at 10x even 100x normal retail prices. This law is not meant for going after people buying at wholesale and selling at normal retail values.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article is missing important information. The law is to prevent at reselling at exorbitant prices. Resellers on Amazon etc have been trying to sell mask at 10x even 100x normal retail prices. This law is not meant for going after people buying at wholesale and selling at normal retail values.

You'd have to be pretty silly to think otherwise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 Resellers on Amazon etc have been trying to sell mask at 10x even 100x normal retail prices. 

Well, every business has a right to set their own prices do they not?

Some people bought Bitcoin for 10 cents and then resold it for 20,000 dollars.

Is that not “gouging” how come they weren’t arrested for “unfair pricing”

They made a smart business decision and the market rewarded them.

Higher mask prices will give the incentive for more companies to produce more masks, let capitalism do its work.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well, every business has a right to set their own prices do they not?

Nope. Did you not read the article? It is literally saying that setting these prices is now illegal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some people bought Bitcoin for 10 cents and then resold it for 20,000 dollars.

That's not a valid comparison and I think you know it.

Higher mask prices will give the incentive for more companies to produce more masks, let capitalism do its work.

It's not the manufactures that are jacking up the price. It's resellers. The manufactures stand to gain nothing, therefore, no added incentive to produce more. Of course they could increase their prices, but they won't. As for the resellers, you could argue they made a smart business decision, but that does not mean it's not a morally corrupt decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You'd have to be pretty silly to think otherwise.

Yes, you would. And yet we still have posters suggesting this law will somehow apply to retailers like 711...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Of course they could increase their prices, but they won't. As for the resellers, you could argue they made a smart business decision, but that does not mean it's not a morally corrupt decision.

The process of free markets mean that manufacturers should raise their prices so they can earn more money and buy more equipment and hire more staff.

That's how incentive works in capitalism, but you must give businesses the freedom to set their own prices.

If 7-11 is allowed to buy from a wholesaler and sell at a profit than everybody else should be allowed to do the same.

Why should a guy who buys masks at Costco and then resells then on Ebay go to jail. He's doing the same thing 7-11 is doing, buying wholesale and then offering to the market and whatever price the market will bear.

Adam Smith 101.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Actually no. Manufacturers and producers of daily essential items including medicines are free to charge whatever they like because its all about free market capitalism. If companies increase their prices during the current crisis, when it's over people will remember those.

Cartels setting prices are also illegal.

I have been shocked by the prices of essential items on Amazon, mostly Chinese sellers. Other have increased their shipping prices. Amazon said with hundreds of thousands of items its impossible to police but they are trying to remove those people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The process of free markets mean that manufacturers should raise their prices so they can earn more money and buy more equipment and hire more staff.

Japan is not a free market.

Unrestricted capitalism is as much a failure as communism. Balance is the key.

In healthy societies, some things are considered valuable enough to society that they need to be protected from an unrestricted free market.

Of course, some will think that this is the espousing of communism, since they can only see the world in a binary mindset. It takes the mental capacity of a nuanced mindset (or maybe the experience of living in a healthy society) to be able to grasp.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Free market capitalism was ended in 2008 by President Bush when he bailed out the banks for $800 billion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Alright then, at the very least, the amount of "acceptable" profit should be posted to the general public, instead of just arresting people who try to do the same thing that 7-11 does anyway.

What is the "fair" Abe-approved wholesale to retail market?

20%? 40%?

Give us a number and treat everybody the same.

Not fair to let big businesses make a profit while little guys get arrested.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I can’t find anything in the article about “gouging”, only the act or reselling seems to be banned.

So I guess technically, buying from a wholesaler like Costco and reselling on Yahoo for a profit should not be in contravention of the law.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I can’t find anything in the article about “gouging”, only the act or reselling seems to be banned.

Maybe you should look up the law then so you know what you're talking about.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe you should look up the law then so you know what you're talking about.

I have, the best I can ascertain is that the law applies to buying retail and then selling retail.

Retailers (people who buy wholesale) are still permitted to sell masks.

Therefore, buying from a wholesaler like Costco and then reselling is not forbidden.

Anybody with more accurate information is free to clarify my post.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Therefore, buying from a wholesaler like Costco and then reselling is not forbidden.

Costco is not a wholesaler.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good. Lock up any scum scalpers. They need to disappear.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not fair to let big businesses make a profit while little guys get arrested.

The "little guys" have been stripping retail shelves bare so people are not able to buy from "big business". "Big business" (and manufactures) have not increased prices, despite the spike in demand. Yet the "little guys" are preying on people's fear and are charging exorbitant prices. The end result, people who actually need the masks (i.e. sick people) are not able to get them. And you want to talk about fairness?

If you think the government is doing this to stamp out little business, you are clearly running short of intelligence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The "little guys" have been stripping retail shelves bare so people are not able to buy from "big business". "Big business" (and manufactures) have not increased prices, despite the spike in demand.

I could just as easily argue that the big boys like 7-11 and Aeon are hogging the entire wholesale market, driving up prices and crowding out mom and pop shops who can't get any orders through.

But if a mom and pop shop got a hold of some masks and tried to sell them on the internet they'd get arrested. Meanwhile, Aeon can charge any price they want and nobody is going to arrest them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Europe it's said that the masks are not effective in any way in protecting against this virus, hence you hardly see anyone wearing them. For a mask to be effective it has to be fitted by a professional and have a respiratory outlet, if the gov would tell the masses this bit of news, problem solved

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Burning Bush

I'm a little confused where you stand on all of this... One minute you are espousing the rights of free market capitalism.

Well, every business has a right to set their own prices do they not?

Adam Smith 101.

Then, you are saying the opposite.

I could just as easily argue that the big boys like 7-11 and Aeon are hogging the entire wholesale market, driving up prices and crowding out mom and pop shops who can't get any orders through.

Which is it?

In both cases you are ignoring the point that I am making, which has nothing to do with capitalism, but rather morality. Do you have a point of view on the moral issue?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shops are starting to take delivery of Toilet rolls and paper tissues again.

They sell out pretty quickly though.

I can imagine the internet will be exploding of memes depicting people getting ahold of Toilet rolls -

Ranging from crying with joy to acting like Smeagol (Gollum) coveting their own "Precious" ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Local stores have supplies again. Masks still in short supply

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masks are non-existent in my area.

But, most Japanese people seem to wear one, and when I see someone coughing without a mask, I move away to a safe distance. Particularly from those with the bad habit of coughing in the direction of others without making any attempt to block their cough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ironic isn't it... the Politicians are doing exactly the above - i.e. reselling masks at elevated prices, rather than doing something to ensure supply is available...

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/japan-politician-apologizes-for-87-000-face-mask-price-gouging

Sadly as non-Japanese passport holders, we can't have a say in the future of these people...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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