The Funeral Market in Japan

Increasing Number of Deaths

The demand for funerals is expected to increase. The number of deaths in Japan is currently increasing at an annual rate of 1% and this growth rate is forecast to fall below 1% beginning in 2027 as annual deaths continue climbing to a peak of 1,679,000 in 2040.

Number of Deaths in Japan (Actual number through 2017)

Graph: Number of Deaths in Japan (Actual number through 2017)

Falling birthrate and aging population

  • Japan’s population started decreasing in 2017—1126,443,000 (down 263,000 or 0.21% from 2017) (as of October 1, 2018)
  • The percentage of the under age 15 segment fell to a record low of Japan’s population in 2017 and has continued to decrease since then.
  • The age 65 and over segment is 27.7% of Japan’s population compared with 12.3% for the under age 15 segment. The population share of the senior segment is 13.9% for age 65 to 74 and 13.8% for older seniors.

Source: Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications “Population Estimates” (2017)

Average Life Expectancy

Graph: Average Life Expectancy

Senior population ratio (age 65+)

Graph:Senior population ratio (age 65+)

Changes in Values and Market trends

Changes in Values and Preferences

The shift in funeral and memorial service formats

New funeral and memorial service formats are emerging as the number of children declines and of seniors climbs, the size of households declines and other changes occur in Japan’s population.

Examples of funeral formats: Non-religious funerals, one-day funerals
Examples of memorial service formats: Home or other simple services, trees instead of grave stones, ash scattering

Increasing practice of “Shukatsu” and using IT

About 80% of the people of Japan are familiar with the word “Shukatsu,” which means preparing for one’s death.

(*Rakuten Insight, Inc.)

The use of smartphone and tablets by people over the age 65 is increasing.

Utilization of the internet by seniors to acquire information and make decisions about funerals and associated services is expected to rise. However, caution is needed because some websites distribute erroneous information.

Market trends

New entrants from different business sectors

There is an increasing number of funeral marketing service companies in Japan that use the internet to supply information about funeral companies but do not hold funerals on their own.

New Funeral Halls in Japan

After reaching a peak between 2002 and 2004, the number of new funeral halls in Japan was at the 300 level in 2005, the 200 level in 2014 and has remained below 200 in the following years.

Despite this decline, many funeral halls have opened in recent years in Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures.