Production had decreased by 4.9% in 2016, yet, the growth rate has increased at more than 10% since 2017. However, it had decreased again by 7.9% in 2018 and then dropped another 12.1% in the first half of 2019, from January to June, compared with the same period of the previous year.
The pants-style diapers, or underwear style, have increased relatively consistently, whereas the tape style has decreased. The tape style decreased by 21% in 2018 and then decreased even more, by 25.6% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period of the previous year.
The reason behind the large decrease in production of diapers was said to be declining exports.
Although, the amount of diaper exports had increased gradually from 246,097 tons in 2015 to 252,649 tons in 2016 and then 298,235 tons in 2017. The year 2018 was when declines began, decreasing 8.9% to 271,680 tons and then decreasing 11.3% to 141,597 tons during the first half of 2019.
Because more than 50% of the production of baby diapers had been exported, production has been greatly influenced by trends in exports. The export of the products for China accounts for the biggest market, and it occupies around 70% of the whole export. In addition, nearly 40% of the baby diapers produced in Japan have been exported to China, therefore the amount exported to China would come to control the production of baby diapers.
Diapers exported to China increased from 2015 to 2017, growing from 165,227 tons in 2015 to 173,636 tons in 2016 and 219,649 tons in 2017. They declined 188,422 tons in 2018 and then to 93,523 tons in the first half 2019 which was a decrease of 17.3% compared with the same period of the previous year.
Exports to China decreased for a number of reasons. The Chinese government prohibited resale by brokers, which decreased market opportunities in some areas. They also began taxing diapers sold on mail order retailers and e-commerce sites. Because a lot of the tape style baby diapers had been exported to China, the export of the tape style has greatly decreased, and it has led to a decrease in production of diapers in Japan. Nevertheless, Japanese nonwoven fabric makers have considered that the production of Japanese diapers would begin to rise again soon, because the demand for the diaper itself would not be reduced in China, however, the sign of the phenomenon has not appeared yet.