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Business trends

Japanese masks go from commodities to 'cool' value-added products

Coronavirus creates opportunities for Uniqlo and other brands to add innovations

Functions count: Fast Retailing, the Uniqlo operator, has filed for a patent for its three-layer AIRism mask. (Photo by Yo Inoue)

TOKYO -- Japanese, for decades famous for wearing masks either to filter out springtime pollen or to keep cold and flu season at bay, are now demanding the things in ever greater variations as they extend their habit into a new season, summer.

This is giving a range of companies, both domestic and overseas, from casual clothing purveyors to electronics makers, new opportunities to add value to a commodity people used to throw away at the end of every day.

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