Market Trends

Social Trends

1. Deaths in Japan are forecast to increase until 2040

The number of deaths in Japan is expected to continue to climb until a peak of 1,679,000 is reached in 2040.

Graph 1

2. Japan’s population is aging as the number of children declines

Japan’s population was 126,443,000 in 2018, down 263,000 (0.21%) from 2017. The number of children under the age of 15 fell to an all-time low the same year. Furthermore, people at least 65 years old accounted for 28.1% of Japan’s population.
In 2018, the under age 15 segment was 12.2% of Japan’s population, 28.1% of the population was at least 65 years old and 14.2% were at least 75 years old as the share of seniors continues to climb.

Source: Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications “Population Estimates” (October 2018)

Graph 2

3. Increase in seniors living alone

The number of seniors (age 65+) living alone is increasing for men and women, with about 10 million currently alone.
In addition, the average size of all households in Japan is decreasing.

Source: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, “Household Projections for Japan” (2018 projections)

Graph 3

Changes in Values and Preferences

◆ The shift in funeral and memorial service formats

The number of households is declining as Japan’s population ages and the number of children declines. In addition, an increasing number of seniors are enjoying many years of life after their retirement. As a result, funeral attendance is often smaller than in prior years. Another important trend is the emergence of new funeral and memorial service formats to reflect shifts in religious values and other changes in people’s values and interests.
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

Image: The shift in funeral and memorial service formats

◆ Increasing practice of preparing for one’s death and using IT

About 80% of the people of Japan are familiar with the word “shukatsu,” which means preparing for one’s death. This clearly demonstrates the growing interest in these preparations.
(Rakuten Insight https://insight.rakuten.co.jp/report/20190527/)
Another significant trend is the increasing holding ratio of smartphone and tablets by people over the age 65. 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 of the existence of websites that distribute erroneous information.

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications “Communications Usage Trend Survey” (July 2016)

Image: Increasing practice of preparing for one’s death and using IT

Trends in Japan’s Funeral Services Market

◆ Companies in other industries are starting funeral businesses

An increasing number of companies in all areas of Japan are starting funeral company matching services but not holding funerals on their own. These companies use the internet for marketing and providing services.
These new entrants in the funeral business offer the advantages of flexible schedules, packaged funeral plans, and prices that are reasonable and easy to understand. However, some of these companies subsequently charge additional fees or even engage in improper activities that violate a law concerning misleading representations of prices. Now there are moves in the funeral business toward providing estimates, including detailed statement of charges, in advance and ensuring high quality service.