Until July, Japanese household goods company Iris Ohyama had always made its line of masks at its two factories in China.

But early this year, as the coronavirus was spreading around the world, Japanese authorities approached the company with an urgent problem. In China, the government had locked down factories that produce most of the planet’s masks and commandeered supplies. With global demand soaring, stocks in Japan were dangerously low.

Could Iris Ohyama start production at home?