Adult diaper sales exceed baby diapers for the first time

Companies are now rushing to grab a bigger chunk of the estimated 109 trillion yen ($1.4 trillion) that consumers over 60 spent in the year ended March 31 in Japan. The number of Japanese over 65 hit a record 23.3 percent of the population in October.

As this article in Bloomberg reports, Unicharm’s sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies for the first time last year. At Daiei Inc. (8263) supermarkets, customers can feel Japan aging — literally: It has made shopping carts lighter.

Unicharm said the lessons it’s learning in Japan will help its expansion in China, where the population at or above 65 rose to 8.87 percent of the total as of Nov. 1, 2010, up 1.91 percentage points from the 2000 census. China introduced a one-child policy in 1979 to curb population growth.

“China will necessarily face the aging society at a faster pace than Japan because of the one-child policy,” said Unicharm Chief Executive Officer Takahisa Takahara in April. “We have the responsibility to take Japan’s standards and spread it into Asia.”