Alcohol formula

Japan wants young people to drink more alcohol. I don’t know how to convince them

Since the start of the pandemic, bars and other premises selling alcohol have been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions, causing sales – and alcohol tax revenues – to plummet in the world’s third-largest economy.

The government’s solution? Launch a contest to find new ways to encourage young people to drink more.

The “Sake Viva!” led by the National Tax Agency, invites participants to submit ideas on how to “stimulate youth demand” for alcohol through new services, promotional methods, products, designs and even sales techniques using the intelligence or the metaverse, according to the contest’s official website.

“The domestic alcoholic beverages market is shrinking due to demographic changes such as declining birth rate and aging population, and lifestyle changes due to the impact of Covid-19,” said the website, adding that the competition was meant to “attract the younger generation”. …and revitalize the industry.”

The competition includes promotional ideas for all types of Japanese alcohol, with entries open until September 9. The finalists will be invited to an expert consultation in October, before a final tournament in November in Tokyo. The winner will receive support for the marketing of his project, according to the tax administration.

But not everyone agrees, with the competition and tax agency receiving criticism from some people online.

“Are you kidding me?” wrote one Twitter user. “Staying away from alcohol is a good thing!”

Others pointed out that it seemed inappropriate for a government agency to encourage young people to drink, and it appears that the campaign did not take into account the health risks or sensitivity towards people struggling with alcohol. ‘alcoholism.

The Japanese Ministry of Health has in the past warned of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. In an article published last year on his website, he called heavy drinking a “major social problem” that persists despite a recent downturn in consumption. And he urged people with unhealthy drinking habits to “reconsider” their relationship with alcohol.

A department spokesperson declined to comment on the tax agency contest when contacted by CNN.

Decrease of sales

Japan, along with several other countries in Asia, maintained strict restrictions for much of the pandemic, closing public spaces and reducing restaurant hours.

Izakayas – Japan’s version of a pub or tavern – have been particularly hard hit, with the latest figures available showing sales halving between 2019 and 2020, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Tourism. Industry.

With fewer opportunities to drink in public, the rate of “household drinking” – drinking at home – “has risen significantly”, the ministry said.

But young adults stood out as the exception. About 30% of people between the ages of 40 and 60 drink regularly, meaning three or more days a week, the ministry said. – compared to only 7.8% of people in their twenties.

“In this way, the decline in consumption habits year by year would have an effect on the shrinking of the domestic market,” the ministry said.

In a 2021 report, the tax agency said liquor duties had been a major source of government revenue for centuries, but had declined in recent decades. Japan received 1.1 trillion yen ($8.1 billion) in alcohol tax in 2021, or 1.7% of overall tax revenue, down from 3% in 2011 and 5% in 1980.

Japan lifted its state of emergency in October 2021, allowing restaurants to sell alcohol again and stay open later – but restrictions in some parts of the country remained in place until March this year .

The country’s recovery since then has been slower than expected, hampered by rising inflation, the economic impact of war in Ukraine and recent spikes in Covid cases which have led to prolonged restrictions.

CNN’s Kathleen Benoza contributed reporting.