NHK has learned that Japan’s public and private sectors have teamed up to develop and mass-produce medical masks.
The National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, air conditioner maker Daikin Industries and Kyoto-based startup crossEffect, jointly developed a respirator mask.
Medical equipment maker Nipro will take charge of manufacturing and selling the masks.
Demand for masks with particle-blocking filters has been rising globally in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many masks used by medical workers in Japan are imported from China and elsewhere, and concerns are growing that they will be in short supply.
Respirator masks are usually disposable. But the newly developed one is made of resin and uses replaceable filters.
The project members aim to acquire the N95 classification, a US standard for respirator masks, and its Japanese equivalent, before selling the product on a trial basis.
Mass production is planned for next year.
Nishimura Kunihiro of the national center says healthcare professionals need more equipment to protect themselves and their patients, and they want made-in-Japan products whose quality they can trust.
He also says domestic production is necessary to ensure masks will be supplied even if imports stop.