Japan air purifier sales surge amid China smog warning

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan logged a huge surge in air purifier sales last month, as Tokyo warned that smog was blowing into its territory from China, which is grappling with an air pollution crisis.

Acrid haze blanketing swathes of China has sparked health risk warnings in Japan while complicating already strained ties between Tokyo and Beijing, which are embroiled in a tense territorial row over islands in the East China Sea.

The Japanese foreign ministry has proposed a meeting over the issue with Beijing, which has promised action as it faces rising public anger over the persistent problem.

Sales of air purifiers in Japan surged by nearly 48 per cent to 11.5 billion yen (S$150 million) in February from a year earlier, according to a monthly survey by the Japan Electronics Manufacturers' Association released on Thursday, March 21, while demand for other home appliances was flat.

Japanese shoppers scooped up more than 450,000 air purifier units last month, the data showed.

While the industry body did not cite a reason for the jump, it coincided with warnings from Japanese officials over the Chinese smog while local media has cited pollution as a key reason for the surge.

Japan's environment ministry has also warned over higher-than-usual levels of pollen that leave millions of Japanese suffering from allergies every year.

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