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Japan's Unicharm to export masks to India and Indonesia next year

Company wants to leverage 'Made in Japan' appeal for protective face covering

Masks have been back in stock in Japanese stores for a while now, a situation that is allowing Unicharm to prepare to export its face coverings to other big Asian nations. (Photo by Kai Fujii) 

TOKYO -- Japan's top mask maker plans to export the protective face coverings to Asian countries now that domestic demand has been sated.

Unicharm early next year will begin exporting about 20 million face masks per month, spread out to India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It plans to add more export markets in the future.

CEO Takahisa Takahara told the Nikkei Asian Review that the export volume could change depending on demand in Japan.

Takahara said his company "has secured the prospect of securing the raw materials" and is preparing to make masks for export.

Unicharm has been selling masks in China, Taiwan and Vietnam on a trial basis, but this would be the first time for the company to move into large-scale exports of the product.

The consumer goods maker plans to prominently display the country of origin on the packaging because, Takahara said, "made in Japan products" have cachet.

Unicharm's domestic factories earlier this year shifted to 24-hour-a-day operations in response to sky-rocketing demand brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is currently producing about 120 million pieces per month, around three times more than usual.

Domestic demand recently peaked, allowing Unicharm to consider exports.

Unicharm also plans to increase production as cold and flu season approaches and in preparation for a potential new wave of COVID-19 cases.

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