Here is why Japan wants young people to drink more alcohol
Japan has launched a national competition aimed at encouraging young people to drink more alcohol.
The initiative was launched by Japan’s National Tax Agency (NTA) and aims to improve the country’s economy by boosting the domestic alcohol market after a sharp drop in tax revenue.
Alcohol sales in the country have been shrinking due to Japan’s ageing population and lifestyle changes prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the campaign’s website.
“The domestic alcoholic beverage market is shrinking due to demographic changes such as the declining birth rate and ageing population, and lifestyle changes due to the impact of Covid-19,” said the website.
Adding that the competition is aimed to “appeal to the younger generation … and to revitalize the industry.”
The campaign dubbed “Sake Viva!” wants young people aged between 20 to 39 to submit ideas on how to “stimulate demand among young people” for alcohol through new services, promotional methods, products, designs and even sales techniques using artificial intelligence or the metaverse, according to the official competition website.
These include Japanese sake but also beer, wine, shochu and whisky.
Japanese sake (rice wine) is a very big industry in Japan. It’s both a huge source of employment and a significant contributor to tax revenue, so the government wants to ensure that it survives.
Finalists will be invited for expert consultation in October, before a final tournament in November in Tokyo.
The winner will receive support for their plan to be commercialized, according to the tax office.
While some praised the idea, many others criticized the campaign for promoting unhealthy habits.
“Ah yes, and later on develop long-term liver problems and burden the healthcare system even more. Short-term solutions with long-term problems, love it,” one Twitter user wrote.
“What’s the link between drinking and economic growth? Are we not told that drinking too much would affect Brain cells and subsequently lead to mental disorders which would rather affect the younger population, and decrease productivity? Lol,” another user commented.
Others pointed out that it seemed inappropriate for a government agency to encourage young people to drink, and it appeared the campaign had not considered the sensitivity toward people dealing with alcoholism.
Japan’s Health Ministry has in the past warned of the dangers of excessive drinking.
In a post on its website last year, it called excessive alcohol consumption a “major social problem” that persisted despite a recent slowdown in consumption.
And it urged people with unhealthy drinking habits to “reconsider” their relationship with alcohol.
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