Covid-19: Japanese city races against time to sharpen pencils that will be used in the country’s general election

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City workers in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, Japan are racing against time to sharpen pencils that will be used in the Oct 31 general election. — AFP pic
City workers in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, Japan are racing against time to sharpen pencils that will be used in the Oct 31 general election. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — As Japan gears up for its general election on Oct 31, a city in Gunma Prefecture is racing against time to sharpen pencils for voters to use.

This is part of the Covid-19 pandemic measure to prevent the spread of the virus, Sora News 24 reported.

The city, Ota, anticipates a voter turnout of over 100,000 voters where they will vote using voter slips and pencils.

To minimise the spread of the virus, voters in the city will take the pencils home after they fill up their ballot papers.

This means one voter needs to be allotted one pencil.

To complicate matters, early voting has been brought forward, meaning that the specially treated, bacteria-resistant pencils, that do not come pre-sharpened, needed to be ordered in a hurry to meet the deadline.

City employees are now tasked to sharpen the pencils during their breaks in between work.

One Twitter user criticised the city for getting civil servants to sharpen the pencils.

“Why not order disposable pencils ? Each of these costs between six and seven yen (22 sen to 26 sen). You’re currently wasting labor costs.”

Another social media user said after shaving a few pencils, his fingers felt numb.

“So spare a thought for the hardworking pencil sharpeners in Ota, and cross your own fingers that they manage to supply enough pencils for all the voters that need them.”

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