35 million 'Made-in-Taiwan' masks hit shelves in Japan's 7-Elevens

Taiwan mask maker had obtained special exemption to export to Japan in April

Mask sold in Tokyo 7-Eleven. (Jared Adler photo)

Mask sold in Tokyo 7-Eleven. (Jared Adler photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An American living in Japan pointed out on Wednesday (July 8) one of the millions of "Made-in-Taiwan" masks that are on sale in 7-Elevens across Japan.

Jared Adler, a data scientist who works in Tokyo, told Taiwan News he spotted the Taiwan-made face masks in a 7-Eleven in Tokyo's Meguro-ku. As all the face masks he had previously seen in stores were Chinese made, he posted photos of the masks that evening on Twitter, quickly gaining over 400 likes and 100 retweets.

On Jan. 24, Taiwan imposed a ban on the export of face masks, three days after it confirmed the first case of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and domestic demand exploded. The ban included masks manufactured by Taiwan's Yu Yuang Textile Co., Ltd., which has been supplying 7-Eleven in Japan with the face coverings for over two decades.

Since the masks were barred from being exported to Japan and they were not the target of government requisitions, Yu Yuang had no choice but to store the masks in its warehouses. The company then filed a petition with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuo Kuo-wen (郭國文) to assist in releasing the masks for export, reported Mirror Media.

Kuo said that after he received the petition, he began coordinating with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and other departments. Due to the urgent need for raw materials to make masks at the time in Taiwan, MOEA agreed to grant a special exemption for Yu Yuang.

For each face mask Yu Yuang exported, it provided the government with the equivalent amount of meltblown non-woven fabric to produce more in Taiwan. This enabled the Taiwan firm to export 35 million masks to Japan between April and May.

Kuo said that Japan's 7-Eleven has entrusted Yu Yuang to make masks for over 20 years, going back to the Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) administration. Unlike the situation with Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engg), which moved its mask-making lines back to Singapore at the start of the outbreak, Yu Yuang continued manufacturing in Taiwan for export, demonstrating that Taiwan's mask production has won international recognition, said Kuo.

Just as Taiwan lifted its export ban on face masks on June 1, Kuo described delivery of the 35 million masks during the pandemic as like "rain in the time of drought," helping strengthen the friendship between Taiwan and Japan.

(Jared Adler photo)

(Jared Adler photo)