A Japanese politician apologized Monday after he made $86,000 auctioning face masks online as the country deals with a shortage during the new coronavirus outbreak.
Hiroyuki Morota, a member of the Shizuoka prefecture assembly and owner of an import firm, defended his decision in a televised press conference but conceded that the move was ill-timed.
Morota said he auctioned packages of masks, some containing 2,000 pieces, via the internet dozens of times over a one-month period, netting 8.88 million yen ($86,000).
Each package sold for between 34,000 to 170,000 yen, he told local media.
Morota said he bought the masks 10 years ago in China for 15 yen a piece, according to the Shizuoka Shimbun daily — or 30,000 yen for a packet containing two thousand masks.
“Those were inventory items that had been stored at my firm for years. It was not that I was earning unjust profits,” Morota said.