The stationery and office industry in Japan – a market overview

The Japanese Stationery and office market is embedded in the long tradition of the pen and paper loving country. The stationery and office business, however, is in midst a process of change. In 2019, there were approximately 1,000 organizations in the stationery, office equipment and paper products industry in Japan, whereof 70 are stationery manufacturers registered to the national association All Japan Stationery Association. Before the intense M&A (Merger and Acquisition) phase, there were 1,800 manufacturers in the year 2000.

The state of stationery retailers

The national association for resale and wholesalers called Japan Stationery Wholesalers Association was founded in 1958, when 1,100 dealers joined to participate as they were confronted with a big wave of renovation in the industry. This organization regrouped in 2017, with a remaining 90 companies as registered members.

The number of stationery shops in Japan has been constantly decreasing. The industry peaked in 1985, when 31,158 stores were open. In 2002, there were 15,963 stores, in 2018, recent government statistics show a figure of 7,000 stores, consequently. The number of stores registered with the National Stationery Retailers Association is 1,100, for the whole stationery market of Japan.

The reason for the rapidly decreasing number of manufacturers, wholesalers and retail shops in Japan’s stationery market is easily understood. Mergers & Acquisitions in and outside of the industry have been rapidly accelerating in the first decade of the 21st century.

Constant demand of stationery products

While the number of players in the stationery industry is rapidly decreasing, the total amount of production and demand for stationery and related commodities in the domestic market shows similar results each year.

Industrial statistics Shipping amount of production 2018 (METI)

Office furniture 9.26 billion USD
Business machines 23.20 billion USD
Paper products 5.10 billion USD
Stationery 2.97 billion USD
Total of 40.53 billion USD


Future prospect

Because of a maturing market, the demand for stationery and office supplies is experiencing a decline. The population decrease in mature markets is also an inevitable situation, which is reinforcing the decrease in demand. Manufacturers of stationery and office supplies are adapting to this environment by promoting products with sophisticated functions that target personal demands and added-value properties, as well as branching out into markets in foreign countries.

About the author

Makoto Fukuchi is Publisher & President of Nichima, Inc. in Tokyo, Japan. He was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1935, graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University at the Dept. of Administrative Management and joined Nichima, Inc. In 1960 he was nominated for Chief Editor of the monthly Industry journal Bungu to Jimuki (Stationery & Business Machines Japan) which has served the stationery industry of Japan since 1923. He became Publisher and President of Nichima, Inc in 1969. Makoto Fukuchi was one of three proposers for ISPA (International Stationery Press Association) in 1978 (Mr. George Tice USA, Monsieur Andre Durrieu France, Mr. Makoto Fukuchi Japan) and he worked as president of this organization voted by general opinion for 18 years.

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