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Toilet rolls: How stores in Japan ran out

Panic buying of bulky product clogs up the sophisticated logistics

This Tokyo supermarket is one of many around the nation having trouble keeping household paper products in stock. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Toilet paper has disappeared from stores in Japan amid the novel coronavirus outbreak and social media-aided hysteria.

The Japan Tissue Industry Association, based in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, declared at the end of February that "there are sufficient supply capacity and inventories" of toilet paper and other paper products. And on March 3, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said about three weeks' worth of factory inventories (about 60,000 tons) and about one week's worth of distribution inventories (about 20,000 tons) have been secured."

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