Japan Oji Holdings Redirects Focus: From Baby Diapers to Adult Diapers

A six month old Japanese baby boy inside a home.

A significant shift in the Japanese diaper industry has been announced by a prominent manufacturer, Oji Holdings, as it plans to cease the production of baby diapers in the country. Instead, the company will redirect its focus towards the adult diaper market.

This strategic move comes amidst Japan’s rapidly aging population and a continuous decline in birth rates, with adult diaper sales surpassing those of infant diapers for over a decade.

The dwindling birth rates were starkly evident in 2023, with only 758,631 babies born in Japan, marking a 5.1% decrease from the previous year. This figure represents the lowest recorded number of births in Japan since the 19th century, a stark contrast to the over two million births in the 1970s.

Oji Holdings’ subsidiary, Oji Nepia, currently produces approximately 400 million infant diapers annually, a stark decrease from its peak production of 700 million diapers in 2001. The company’s decision reflects the sustained decline in demand for infant diapers over the years.

The trend towards adult diaper dominance in the market was highlighted back in 2011 when Japan’s leading diaper manufacturer, Unicharm, announced that its sales of adult diapers had exceeded those of baby diapers. This industry-wide shift underscores the demographic challenges facing Japan and the evolving needs of its population.

In contrast, the adult diaper market has been experiencing robust growth, with its value now exceeding $2 billion (£1.6 billion). This surge in demand aligns with Japan’s status as one of the world’s most aged populations, with nearly 30% of its citizens aged 65 or older. Remarkably, the proportion of individuals aged over 80 surpassed 10% for the first time last year.

In addition to its strategic shift towards adult diapers in Japan, Oji Holdings has announced its intention to maintain production of baby diapers in Malaysia and Indonesia. The company anticipates a growing demand for baby diapers in these regions, reflecting ongoing demographic trends and market dynamics.

Japan, one of the world’s largest economies, faces a pressing crisis due to a shrinking population, a consequence of both aging demographics and plummeting birth rates. Despite the Japanese government’s efforts to tackle these challenges, results have been largely elusive.

Strategies such as increased expenditure on child-related programs and subsidies aimed at supporting young couples or parents have failed to yield significant improvements in birth rates. Experts point to a multitude of factors contributing to this stagnation, including declining marriage rates, rising female workforce participation, and the escalating costs associated with child-rearing.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the gravity of the situation last year, stating that Japan stands at a critical juncture in determining its societal sustainability, characterizing it as a “now or never” scenario.

However, Japan’s predicament is not unique. Similar declines in fertility rates are observed in other Asian economies like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. Notably, South Korea holds the dubious distinction of having the lowest birth rate globally.

Kindly share this story:
Kindly share this story:
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on telegram
Share on facebook
Top News

Related Articles