Disposable diapers are considered luxury items in China, and as such, Japanese manufacturers can sell their products there for almost double the prices in Japan. This has proven to be a very profitable market for Japan-based disposable diaper makers that it was always an inevitability that knock-offs – pirated Chinese-made diapers – would soon come out to make a quick buck. Japanese manufacturers are now waging a seemingly unwinnable war against these fakes in a country where making cheap copies seem to be the norm.
Daio Paper Corp. said that Chinese authorities have already punished several illegal operators at their own request for selling imitations of the Japanese maker’s “Goo.n” disposable diapers. The imitations – as always – are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, from packaging to physical appearance of the diaper. In truth, they have a rougher feel and absorb less water, Daio officials said. “They are so elaborately made that at first viewers would never notice they are fake,” said Yasuro Tomatsuri, chief of Daio’s intellectual property section. The company said the Guangzhou city government in southern China issued a confiscation order for the imitation goods on Dec. 4, and fined the illegal operators in the hundreds of thousands of yen.
These fake diaper products are also sold at almost the same price as the original ones, between 155-185 yuan, twice the market prices in Japan. Daio Paper notified Chinese administrative authorities about the imitation products in September after it received numerous complaints from consumers who suspected that the diapers they bought were fake. These fake diapers are seen to hurt what is an already booming industry for Japanese manufacturers, as the market for these products is rapidly expanding. The Japan External Trade Organization has estimated the market size at 10.2 billion yuan (170 billion yen, or around US$1.7 billion) in 2013, triple the size five years ago.