Japan’s youth are choosing sobriety over drinks, and it’s a costly problem for the country’s National Tax Agency. The Japanese government has therefore launched a nationwide campaign encouraging more drinking.
The country’s National Tax Agency (NTA) is running a campaign called “Sake Viva!” targeted at people aged between 20 and 39, inviting them to join a competition to make drinking popular again among the age group.
The agency hopes that the ideas generated from the competition can rejuvenate alcohol sales, and increase government’s tax revenues on booze, which has been slipping from 5% of total tax income in 1980 to just 1.7% in 2020.
In an interview with South China Morning Post, Hiromi Iuchi, a spokeswoman for the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers’ Association, believes the campaign could replicate the success of Beaujolais Nouveau wine in the country. The fruity French wine has enjoyed immense popularity in Japan and its release on every Thursday of November has become a celebrated fete in the country.
“Back then, people drank sake pretty much every day, but then beer started to become really popular, then Japan went through its wine boom, then the whisky boom and now there are a lot of imported drinks available, but still there is a general fall in the amount being consumed,” Iuchi was quoted as saying.
The reasons behind the decline are multifold. Japan’s ageing population, pandemic-induced drinking habits, low birthrate and health consciousness have all contributed to the decline in drinking.
According to the NTA, the average Japanese drank 100 litres of alcohol in 1995, but only 75 litres in 2020.
But not everyone is pleased with the campaign. Critics argue young people avoiding alcohol should be perceived as a good thing, while others question if the campaign is at odds with health ministry guidance on moderate alcohol consumption.