Merry Christmas everyone for yesterday! I hope that you had a great day with family.  You might have been fortunate and been given a few gifts as part of the festivities.  Perhaps some socks, a good book, a nice new cardigan, some chocolates. Whatever you were given, you probably did not receive any adult diapers.

Unless of course, you live in Japan, in which case you might well have since the production of adult diapers in that country has doubled in the past decade. Adult diapers are essential for caring for the elderly and the growth in this product is a product of Japan’s rapidly ageing population. So popular are the adult diapers that Unicharm (!) Corp. “saw sales of adult diapers outpace infant diapers in the last fiscal year ending March 31, while forecasts indicate the same will happen throughout the industry in the next few years”.  The company now sells over 60 billion yen (576 million USD) worth of adult diapers a year! And such sales are reflected in the changing attitudes towards adult diapers:

“At an outlet of Tomod’s drugstore in Kawasaki, infant and adult diapers take up roughly the same amount of shelf space.

“We used to put (adult diapers) on an inconspicuous shelf in the corner of the store, but with the increasing amount of at-home nursing care, we now treat them as an essential item,” the store manager said.

Sales of nursing care products in general have grown by around 10 percent annually in recent years.”

As Japan continues to age, it looks as if production of adult diapers will soon outpace infant diapers throughout the country:

“As production of infant diapers has peaked, companies are focusing on diapers for adults.

According to the Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association, whose members includes diaper makers, domestic production of adult diapers was around 300,000 tons last year, double the amount a decade ago.

Forecasts suggest that in a few years adult diaper production will exceed that of infant diapers.

In response, Oji Nepia Co., the maker of the Nepia Tender series, built a new adult diaper factory in the city of Fukushima in January.

Daio Paper Corp., which sells the Attento line of adult diapers, also plans to build a plant in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and commence production in fiscal 2017.”

We cannot begin to imagine the myriad of way that our societies will change due to the ageing of our populations over the next decades. In many respects though, we can look to Japan as a rough guide.

Have a great couple of weeks! Shannon, Thomas and I are with family and off to a wedding. We will be blogging again in a fortnight. 

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...