Japan launches competition to encourage young people to drink more alcohol : NPR

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Japan’s alcohol industry hard, sharpening a long-standing trend away from drinking. A new campaign, sponsored by the National Tax Authorities, hopes to change that, but is met with sharp criticism.

Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

switch caption

Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Japan launches competition to encourage young people to drink more alcohol : NPR

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Japan’s alcohol industry hard, sharpening a long-standing trend away from drinking. A new campaign, sponsored by the National Tax Authorities, hopes to change that, but is met with sharp criticism.

Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Youth turning away from alcohol is generally welcomed as a positive trend. But it’s bad news for both liquor companies and governments that see lucrative tax revenues for alcohol dry up, along with the population.

Japan’s national tax authorities are clearly concerned: it is taking an unorthodox approach to getting young Japanese adults to drink more, in an online contest called Sake Viva!

The project asks young people to submit business plans to entice a new generation to start using the sauce, saying Japan’s sake, beer and spirits makers face challenges that will make the pandemic worse created.

Competition goes against the Japanese trend of not drinking

According to the country’s health ministry, alcohol consumption in Japan has been in a downward spiral since the 1990s. Over the past decade, the government has adopted a sweeping plan to address social and health problems associated with alcohol, with an emphasis on reaching the relatively small proportion of the population that accounted for nearly 70% of Japan’s total alcohol consumption. .

Coronavirus restrictions have prevented many people from visiting izakaya (pub) businesses in Japan, and people simply don’t drink enough at home, the tax authorities said.

“The domestic alcoholic beverage market is shrinking due to demographic changes such as declining birth rates and an aging population,” as well as lifestyle shifts away from drinking, according to a website created especially for the competition.

New products that reflect the changing times; sales using virtual “AI and Metaverse” concepts; promotions that use the place of origin of products – those are just some of the ideas the site lists as ways to get Japanese young adults to embrace alcohol.

Backlash hits the plan to boost alcohol companies

The competition aims to “revitalize the beverage industry and solve problems”. But it has struck a chord with many people online, raising pointed questions about why a government that previously encouraged people to drink responsibly or abstain is now asking for help getting young people to drink more.

Writer and journalist Karyn Nishi emphasized the controversy, saying Japan went in the opposite direction that most modern governments are pursuing and emphasizing that alcohol is inherently dangerous. When the discussions about the match erupted on Twittera popular comment praised young people who do not drinksay they believe the social costs of alcohol outweigh the tax revenues.

Critics also question the cost of the initiative to taxpayers. The contest and website are operated by Pasona Noentai, an agricultural and food-related arm of a huge Japanese company called Pasona Group.

The pro drinking contest lasts for months and ends this fall

The Sake Viva! Contest is open to those aged 20 to 39, entries must be submitted by September 9. An email to the contest organizers for comments and details on the number of entries went unanswered before this story was published.

Entries to a pro drinking competition that make it to the final round will be judged in person in Tokyo on November 10.

The date underscores the dichotomy many now see in the government’s alcohol policy: when Japan passed the Basic Law on Measures Against Alcohol-Related Harm, a week was established to raise awareness of alcohol abuse, with a start date of Nov. 10.

Leave a Comment