As Japan's population continues to drop, with just 14.93 million children aged 14 or younger on April 1, a decline of 190,000 on the same date a year ago and the lowest annual figure since 1950, household pets are on the rise.
There are some 20 million cats and dogs registered across the country, and an additional 60,000 pets joined households in 2020.
"They are willing to spend money on giving them the best food available," Chris Dunn, an executive of the Japan branch of the Pet Planet food company said.
Many pet owners in Japan come from middle-to-high-income households, so the surge in pet sales has been followed by the emergence of a bewildering array of accessories for animals. Pet shops in Japan often stock a diverse range of clothing for dogs, from rainwear to fancy dress outfits. In addition to leashes, collars, toys and animal beds, the most popular products are strollers for taking pets to the park.
Dunn believes that the biggest reason why people in Japan are buying pets is for psychological support, whether they are doing so consciously or not.