Display maker Sharp Corp. will start making face masks next month in response to a government request for companies to help boost output to make up for a shortage caused by the outbreak of a new coronavirus, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Sharp will begin production at a pace of 150,000 masks a day, eventually ramping up its daily output to 500,000, the source said.

The company will initially introduce three production lines in dust-free clean rooms at a plant in Mie Prefecture that is usually used to build liquid crystal display panels.

In China, Sharp's parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan, General Motors Co.'s local joint venture and Chinese carmaker BYD Co. have also started producing face masks, according to a media report.

In the face of widespread shortages and intense demand, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to ensure 600 million masks will be made available in Japan every month, up from the current monthly supply of around 400 million.

The government has said it will provide subsidies of up to 30 million yen ($275,000) for a company that invests in boosting mask production.

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