A Japan diaper shortage sounds like the opening line to a bad joke, but it is actually a real problem and causing distress for Japanese parents.
The shortage is caused by Japan’s attempt to avoid a high sales tax increase. When consumers learned of the approaching tax increase, they began buying up items like diapers, cigarettes and other consumer goods that are daily necessities for most people.
While Japan is known for its low birth rates, there are still parents in the country that need to diaper their children. The recent diaper shortage has made it hard to do so and has caused frustration among many Japanese parents.
The problem occurred when not only Japanese customers began buying the diapers in bulk, but also Chinese customers. Japan’s diapers are high quality and many Chinese consumers prefer them to those made in China and other countries. Other high quality Japanese products were also purchased in large amounts, as were office supplies and toiletries.
"Real household income will be squeezed after April by a greater degree than last time because of the bigger rise in the sales tax rate," said Yasuo Yamamoto, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. "As such, there's a risk of the pullback turning out deeper this time."
Although the increase in sales is good for the economy currently, the higher sales tax may make it less likely for consumers to continue to buy Japanese products. This could cause a slump in the economy in the near future.
While most consumers will eventually have to pay the tax to get the items they want and need, it is likely that many of them will hold out as long as possible, budget differently and pursue other options in terms of stores and manufacturers.
How long do you think the diaper shortage will last and what types of problems could the tax increase cause for Japan's economy?
Image via Wikimedia Commons