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Japan nappy maker switches to adults


Japan’s plummeting birth rate has led a nappy manufacturer to stop making diapers for babies at home and instead ramp up production for adults, the company has said.

Oji Holdings will wrap up domestic output of infant diapers in September, after production dropped from a 2001 peak of around 700 million annually to 400 million today.

“Demand for baby diapers is decreasing because of factors including the falling birth rate,” a spokesman said.

They will continue to be sold in Japan until stocks run out.

The number of births in Japan dropped to a new low in 2023, with more than twice as many deaths as new babies born.

The spokesman said Oji Holdings will boost production of the sanitary items for adults in the country, anticipating their use mainly in facilities like nursing homes.

Japan has the world’s oldest population after Monaco, and the market for adult diapers is “expected to grow domestically,” the company said in a statement.

Oji Holdings, which also makes other paper products, said it would however “maintain and expand” baby diaper production and sales overseas, including in Indonesia and Malaysia, citing expectations of growth there.

In Japan, births in 2023 fell for the eighth consecutive year to 758,631, a drop of 5.1%, preliminary data showed in February. The number of deaths stood at 1,590,503.

The nation is facing growing labour shortages, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed policies including financial aid for families, easier childcare access and more parental leave to try and boost the birth rate.

The population of almost every country will be shrinking by the end of the century, a major study reported last week, warning that baby booms in developing nations and busts in rich ones will drive massive social change.

The fertility rate in half of all nations is already too low to maintain their population size, an international team of hundreds of researchers reported in The Lancet.


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