One of the effects of the fall in oil imports to Japan has been a shortage of detergents on sale in the country's shops.
One of the effects of the fall in oil imports to Japan has been a shortage of detergents on sale in the country's shops. Now, Japanese housewives and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) officials have accused detergent manufacturers and wholesalers of capitalising on the shortage by stockpiling supplies. Detergents are derived from crude oil.
Recently MITI officials raided the warehouse of one leading wholesaler in Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo, and found over two thousand cases of detergent. While angry shoppers besieged the warehouse. Ministry officials tried to get some explanation of the hoarding from the manufacturers.
Detergents have all but disappeared from supermarket shelves; where they are on sale, they cost as much as three times their pre-November prices.
The men from MITI left the warehouse unsatisfied, and late confronted the company's chief executives at their head office. They wanted to find out when the detergents would be delivered to the retailers.
The episode, shown on television throughout Japan, underlines the present situation in Japan with shortages of many kinds of consumer goods and widespread price-rises. Japanese housewives have contributed to the panic by buying large quantities of household goods -- from toilet paper to rice.
While the manufacturers blame the shortages on the energy crisis, others say the manufacturers are stockpiling goods until the full impact of the fuel shortage and world-wide scarcity of raw materials is felt -- at which time they will put the goods on the market at inflated prices.