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New International Standards for Evaluation of Adult Disposable Diapers are Issued Communicating Japan's unique idea for incontinence management to the world

Japan submitted a proposal to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the development of new international standards for methods of evaluating adult disposable diapers. In response, the ISO decided to reflect the proposal in the revised standards titled “ISO 15621 Urine-absorbing aids –general guidelines on evaluation,” and the revised standard has been issued. This issuance is expected to accelerate the business development of Japanese companies that can take advantage of their strengths in the field of nursing care.

1. Background

As Japan’s population ages ahead of the rest of the world, Japanese companies have been developing a variety of nursing care products in line with the advancement of nursing-care technologies. In the field of incontinence management, companies have been developing a variety of urine-absorbing aids, i.e., a variety of adult disposable diapers, including tape-attached, pull-on and two-piece varieties, thereby developing an environment in which users are able to select products that are suitable to their lifestyles and physical conditions.

However, these companies are facing difficulties in marketing their products globally as no international standards are established for testing methods to appropriately evaluate the performance of adult disposable diapers developed in Japan.

To overcome this obstacle, in August 2013, Japan submitted a proposal to the ISO for adding new testing methods as standards for appropriately evaluating the performance of Japan’s advanced adult disposable diapers, taking advantage of the revision of the existing standards for diapers. In response, the ISO decided to reflect Japan’s proposal in the revision of the existing international standard, which were issued as the 2017 version of the existing standards, in light of the results of the discussions on the proposal by the technical experts of the ISO member countries and votes cast by the member countries.

2. Outline of the standards and background to the revision

The revised and issued international standards titled “ISO 15621 Urine-absorbing aids   general guidelines on evaluation,” in which new standards proposed by Japan are incorporated--stipulate evaluation methods by type, application and absorbing performance--of adult disposable diapers.

Key points of the revision are as follows.

  1. Clearly stipulating categories of diapers (tape attached/pull-on types)
  2. Newly establishing standards stipulating aid pads combined with diapers in use
  3. Newly establishing standards stipulating methods of evaluating absorbent performance of aid pads

Not limited to incontinence management, nursing care is a field that cannot be considered separately from national or regional cultures and people’s lifestyle patterns. For example, the nursing care industries in Japan stipulate the specifications and performance of adult diapers and aid pads on the premise that users often wear a diaper combined with an aid pad and that caregivers change the pad alone, and changing the pad alone is easier and more convenient, based on the standpoint that caregivers are highly likely to change the pad several times even during the night.

Meanwhile, as most Westerners are basically less likely to change diapers of adult care receivers during the night, the previous international standards only stipulated methods of evaluating the performance of such diapers as to whether or not they are able to absorb and hold urine over several urinations. Accordingly, there were no standards stipulating methods of evaluating aid pads commonly used in Japan.

To address this situation, Japan considered it important to raise the awareness of ISO member countries in terms of the user-friendliness of aid pads as well as the necessity of correct evaluation methods. To this end, as a top priority, Japan needed to convey its unique ideas for incontinence management to the ISO member countries, i.e., Japan’s approach in which users make use of a variety of products depending on their physical conditions or lifestyles.

Standardization of welfare equipment is a field often led by Western countries. However, thanks to the consistent proposal activities by stakeholders in Japan, the ISO member countries have finally accepted Japan’s technologies and ideas for nursing care products that have been deeply rooted and developed in the Japanese culture.

3. Expected effects

The new international standards are expected to encourage Japanese companies in the nursing care industries to further develop businesses in emerging countries in Asia and other regions, in which the aging population is set to grow rapidly, taking advantage of such companies’ strengths reinforced by the standards. Moreover, popularization of Japan’s unique method of incontinence management in the rest of the world is expected to help users overseas to select their desired products from a variety of options.

Establishment of new standards comprehensively covering a variety of uses of adult diapers

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Note:In May 2013, Japan received a request for the development of new international standards in this field from Unicharm Corporation and the Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association. In response, following the examination by the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (JISC), Japan decided to make a proposal to the ISO, taking advantage of the Top Standard Scheme (former system of the current Standardization System for Cultivating New Markets). This successful standardization of adult disposable diapers is partly due to the achievements under the Strategic Development of International Standards project (an effort targeting international standardization that affects product selectivity for users for urine-absorbing aids).

Release date

July 6, 2017

Division in Charge

International Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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