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As mask supplies dwindle, bra maker offers support

  • SHARP CORPORATION VIA AP
                                This Tuesday, March 24, 2020, photo released by Sharp Corporation, shows the first production of surgical masks at its factory in Taki, Mie Prefecture, Japan. The Japanese electronics maker began production with a daily capacity of 150,000 masks on Tuesday to help address a shortage of the items amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

    SHARP CORPORATION VIA AP

    This Tuesday, March 24, 2020, photo released by Sharp Corporation, shows the first production of surgical masks at its factory in Taki, Mie Prefecture, Japan. The Japanese electronics maker began production with a daily capacity of 150,000 masks on Tuesday to help address a shortage of the items amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

TOKYO >> As the coronavirus pandemic continues, one company is taking a unique approach to easing the shortage of masks in Japan.

Atsumi Fashion Co., a sewing company based in Toyama Prefecture, is producing masks by repurposing women’s underwear. The company began utilizing the cloth lining from bras after an employee realized similar materials were being used in disposable masks.

“We hope we can contribute to society as the mask shortage continues,” said sales manager Hiroshi Hinata. “Even these masks can prevent the virus from spreading to others through coughing or sneezing.”

Employees are making masks after working hours at the company’s factory in Himi. They tried to devise new methods after the city called on local businesses to help provide masks for workers at City Hall, which only had 600 left.

Atsumi Fashion plans to produce 1,000 masks for the city and distribute them to medical and educational institutions, prioritizing those in greatest need.

Other firms have also shifted resources toward mask-making.

In February, Sharp Corp. announced it would be making 1,500 masks a day. Earlier, a chipmaker in Kanagawa Prefecture also began producing masks.

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