Viva Sake!: Japanese government wants to encourage young people to increase alcohol consumption | World

Japan’s young adults are somewhat sober — something officials hope to change with a new campaign.

The younger generation drinks less alcohol than their parents—a trend that has hit hard on tax collections on drinks such as sake.

So the Japanese IRS (NTA) launched a national competition to come up with ideas to reverse this trend.

The Viva Sake campaign! hopes to present a plan to make the drink more attractive — and jumpstart the industry.

The competition urges people aged 20 to 39 to share their business ideas to drive demand among their peers — whether for sake, shochu, whiskey, beer or Japanese wine.

The group that is organizing the competition for the tax authority says new habits — created, in part, during the Covid-19 pandemic — and an aging population have led to a decline in alcohol sales.

The idea is for participants to present ideas for promotions, branding and even innovative plans involving artificial intelligence.

Japanese media reports that the initiative has divided opinion, with some criticism over the attempt to promote an unhealthy habit.

But others have posted quirky suggestions online — like famous actresses “performing” as receptionists at digital VR clubs.

Participants have until the end of September to submit their suggestions. The best ideas will then be developed with the help of experts before final proposals are submitted in November.

The campaign’s website claims that Japan’s alcohol market is shrinking, and the country’s older population — along with falling birth rates — is a significant factor behind this.

Recent data from the tax department shows that the Japanese drank less in 2020 than in 1995, with a reduction from 100 liters to 75 liters per year.

As a result, tax revenue from alcohol taxes has also shrunk over the years. According to the local newspaper The Japan Times, it represented 5% of total revenue in 1980, but in 2020 it dropped to just 1.7%.

The World Bank estimates that nearly one-third (29%) of Japan’s population is aged 65 and over—the highest proportion of elderly people in the world.

Concern about the future of sake isn’t the only problem facing Japan’s economy — there are fears about the availability of younger employees for certain types of jobs and the care of the elderly in the future.

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