A local assemblyman in central Japan apologized Monday for price gouging during the coronavirus crisis after it was revealed he made 8.9 million yen ($87,000) by selling face masks via online auctions.
Hiroyuki Morota, a 53-year-old independent member of the Shizuoka prefectural assembly, admitted auctioning packets of 2,000 masks online from Feb. 4 at vastly inflated prices.
"I had a moral responsibility and I regret that I lacked consideration as an assembly member," Morota said at a press conference, adding he made 89 shipments of one to a couple of packets, each auctioned off for between 30,000 yen to 170,000 yen.
Morota, who runs a trading company that sells items imported from China, said he now plans to put the profits toward fighting the virus in Shizuoka Prefecture.
He claimed that he had the masks in stock from when he bought them in bulk at the time of the Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak.
Confirmed cases in Japan of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, which was first detected in China in late December, have topped 1,000.
The number includes about 700 passengers and crew from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.