The blast, which killed a firefighter and injured 35 other emergency service workers, occurred after a fire caused by a chemical reaction broke out on Saturday afternoon at a plant operated by Nippon Shokubai Co. in the city of Himeji, close to Osaka in central Japan.
Nippon Shokubai controls the largest share of the world market for super-absorbent polymers, which is used in the production of nappies, and has been expanding its international sales network to keep up with demand.
According to the company, demand is so high that its production facilities have been required to operate at full capacity and it has announced plans to set up production facilities overseas. The company was particularly keen to meet growing demand for disposable nappies in China.
The water-absorbing polymers soak up an infant's waste through hydrogen bonding with water molecules. Generally, nappies that utilise the technology are able to absorb 50 times their own weight of liquid. If the operation of the factory is suspended for a long time, it could affect production.
Before it was destroyed, the Himeji plant produced 320,000 tons of the super-absorbent polymer, according to the Sankei newspaper, about 20 per cent of the global share.
Pressure will now increase on the company's other production facilities to meet the shortfall.
On average, a child in Britain gets through as many as 6,500 nappies in the first two-and-a-half-years of his or her life, according to research by Surrey County Council.
According to the Women's Environmental Network, three billion nappies are thrown away in the UK every year, around eight million every day. Of that total, more than 90 per cent are disposed of in landfill sites.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 16 billion disposable nappies are used every year in the US.
Television footage of the blaze showed the gutted building, with a fire engine also damaged in the explosion. Some 500 staff had to be evacuated.
"The explosion shook our doors so much that we though it was an earthquake," a local resident told national broadcaster NHK.