Japan manufacturer to boost domestic mask output, cut China dependence

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese household goods manufacturer on Wednesday said it will boost domestic production of face masks after a government request for help, using public funding aimed at encouraging companies to shift production from China.

Iris Ohyama said government funding will allow it to bolster production capacity at a new factory in Miyagi, northern Japan, to 150 million masks per month from an originally-planned 60 million per month when it starts in June.

The privately-held company, which sells consumer goods ranging from plastic storage boxes to rice cookers, will continue making face masks at 2 factories in China.

But it plans to shift production of non-woven fabric, a key component of face masks, to Japan from China, where prices had recently spiked.

“We are reviewing our supply chain’s dependency on China,” it said in a statement.

Addressing the shortage of face masks is a priority for the Japanese government, which has begun delivering two washable masks to each household.

The website of Japanese electronics firm Sharp 6753.T crashed on Tuesday after the company started selling face masks online. [L1N2C907P]

Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu, editing by Louise Heavens