Japanese Diaper Maker Pivots to Adult Diapers as Birth Rate Declines2 min read

In response to Japan’s profound demographic changes, Oji Holdings, a prominent diaper manufacturer, has announced a strategic pivot in its production focus. The company revealed plans to discontinue the manufacturing of disposable diapers for infants and redirect its efforts towards meeting the rising demand for adult diapers within the country.

Oji Holdings, known primarily for its production of paper products, disclosed in a recent statement its intention to cease the production of diapers for babies by September of this year. Instead, the company aims to strengthen its position in the adult disposable diaper market, acknowledging the shifting demographics in Japan.

The decision comes amidst a significant societal transition, where sales of adult diapers have surpassed those for infants in Japan for the first time in over a decade, according to reports by BBC News. This shift underscores the broader implications of Japan’s declining birth rate and rapidly aging population.

Last year, Japan witnessed a historic low in the number of births, marking an eighth consecutive year of decline, with just 758,631 babies born, as reported by Japan’s Health and Welfare Ministry. The gravity of this demographic trend has prompted concern among Japanese officials, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi recently cautioning that the situation is “critical” and demanding urgent action to reverse the trend.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has also voiced apprehensions, warning that Japan faces the risk of being unable to function as a society due to its declining birth rate. Beyond the issue of dwindling birth rates, Japan grapples with the challenges posed by its rapidly aging population, with data indicating that more than one in ten Japanese citizens were aged 80 or above last year.

The United Nations Population Division has singled out Japan as having the world’s oldest population, with nearly 30% of its 125 million inhabitants aged 65 or older. This demographic imbalance poses significant risks, including the potential for a dramatic decline in Japan’s overall population, projected to decrease by approximately 30% to 87 million by 2070, according to reports by The Guardian.

Oji Holdings’ decision to reallocate resources in response to these shifting demographics mirrors a similar move made by Unicharm, Japan’s largest diaper manufacturer, over a decade ago. Bloomberg reported in 2011 that Unicharm’s sales of adult diapers had surpassed those for infants, highlighting a broader trend in the industry.

As Japan grapples with the challenges posed by its aging population and declining birth rate, the strategic shift by Oji Holdings underscores the need for adaptation in various sectors of the economy. The move reflects a proactive response to evolving demographic realities and signals a broader trend in the industry towards catering to the needs of an aging society.

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