Japan faces shortage of tombstones due to closure of Chinese factories

By Xing Xiaojing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/4 21:18:42

Photo taken on Feb. 19, 2020 shows passengers walking on the deck of the "Diamond Princess", a cruise ship which has been kept in quarantine for 14 days at the port of Yokohama in Japan. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi)

Japan faces a shortage of tombstones due to the closure of Chinese factories amid the coronavirus outbreak, as 90 percent of the tombstones in Japan are imported from China. 

However, business insiders told the Global Times on Wednesday that tombstone production is gradually being resumed, which is expected to ease shortfalls.

Ioka Susumu, a tombstone store owner in Japan, told the Global Times that  70 percent of his products were imported from East China's Fujian Province.

"Even stones from India, Africa, Western Europe and other places must go to Fujian for further processing before being exported to Japan. Affected by the epidemic, the store has been out of stock for two months," he said.

He added that although there are some ready-made tombstones in stock, tombstones need to be made according to customers' requirements, leaving many customers waiting.

Zeng Xiaodong, the deputy secretary-general of the Stone and Carving Industry Association of Hui'an County, Fujian told the Global Times that the tombstones exported from Fujian Province occupied over 90 percent of the local market share. 

However, the Japanese market is in decline as orders have been downsized due to the downturn of the Japanese economy.

"Japanese people used to refurbish tombstones every few years, but in recent years there has been a decline in orders due to Japan's economic downturn, leaving a number of Chinese manufacturers focusing on domestic markets rather than exports," he said.

According to Zeng, the process of producing tombstones is complicated. The early steps of cutting and shaping stones must be completed by workers in other provinces while the finalizing process is completed in Fujian. 

He said that usually the stones should be shipped to Japan once a week, but that hasn't been done for two months now as workers participating in the early stages could not get back to work due to the epidemic.

However, the situation has gradually improved as tombstone production is being resumed, he added.


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