Mask sales soar despite doubts they block coronavirus
Nikkei -- Jan 28
Will wearing a surgical mask help protect against the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has so far killed more than 80 people?

"Masks may not have the preventive effect people hope," Satoshi Hori, Professor of Infection Control Science at Juntendo University in Tokyo, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "Wearing a mask works to help prevent patients with the virus from spreading it, as it blocks the dispersal of droplets containing the virus."

Wearing gloves won't help much either, said Professor Hori, because people wearing gloves who touch a contaminated surface such as door handles, can still spread the virus. They can also contract the virus if they touch their eyes or mouth with a gloved hand.

"Washing your hands with soap, or using rubbing alcohol, is more important and is supported by scientific evidence," he said.

Scientific evidence is one thing, but the wisdom crowds is another, with panicked consumers driving gallopping demand for surgical masks that has left manufacturers scrambling.

According to Japan's top mask maker Unicharm, in addition to making more masks at its domestic factories -- Unicharm began round-the-clock operation last week -- the company has also asked its suppliers in China to ramp up production.

Since the first case of coronavirus in Japan was confirmed, Unicharm said it has been flooded with orders for masks from drugstores and other retailers. According to the company orders temporarily topped 10 times the normal level and remained three times higher than usual through last week.

Unicharm offers a range of high-quality face masks, including "Cho-kaiteki," or super comfy, masks, which promise to be very comfortable to wear, and "Cho-rittai," or super three-dimensional, masks, which feature a "super 3D fit" that shapes to the user's face without leaving gaps, but also stops the mask from sticking to the user's mouth.

Unicharm, which plans to continue increased production levels through to the end of January, said it had also decided to increase production of alcohol wet wipes in several domestic factories in response to surging demand.

Another Japanese mask manufacturer, Kowa, which is based in Nagoya, said it had also lifted production at its domestic plants. "We can't meet demand, we are getting so many orders and production cannot catch up."

News source: Nikkei
Jun 04
Japanese casual clothing chain Uniqlo will open a new outlet Friday in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood, marking a homecoming eight years in the making to the city's vibrant hub for youth fashion. (Nikkei)
Jun 03
The balance of money circulating in Japan’s economy reached ¥543 trillion in May, hitting a record high for the second straight month, as the central bank pumped more cash to cushion the blow to businesses and consumers from the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Jun 03
East Japan Railway Co. will accelerate plans to open 100 unmanned convenience stores within the next four years, sources close to the matter said Tuesday, as it takes advantage of the need to reduce human contact amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Jun 02
Regulations to protect workers in Japan from abusive bosses and colleagues took effect Monday to criticism that it only provides a road map to desk-bound bullies. (Nikkei)
Jun 01
Japan's government is set to ask all independent administrative corporations and government-designated corporations handling personal information, to consider security risks when purchasing telecommunication equipment. (NHK)
May 30
Despite Nissan Motor Co.’s latest efforts to become more cost-efficient and profitable by strengthening its collaboration with Renault SA, its business downturn may be causing a costly delay in the global race toward new mobility technologies, analysts say. (Japan Times)
May 30
Looking for an easy business idea to start fast? (newsonjapan.com)
May 29
Japan's textile imports surged in April, fuelled by growing demand for face masks. (NHK)
May 29
Nissan Motor has posted its first net loss in 11 years in the business year through March, amounting to more than 670 billion yen, or 6.2 billion dollars. (NHK)
May 29
NTT Docomo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, said Thursday it has secured exclusive rights to offer Disney's streaming service Disney+ in the country starting June 11. (Nikkei)