Japan New 'Pro-alcohol' Campaign Asking Young People to Drink More Alcohol is Drawing Flak

Last week Japan’s national tax agency, a governmental unit, got people talking with the “Saké Viva!” contest, which invited creative individuals to come up with ideas to boost alcohol consumption among young adults. But this “pro-alcohol” campaign has garnered negative reactions from both people in the country and astonishment abroad. Does Japan want young people to drink more alcohol? In early July 2022, the National Tax Agency launched a campaign called “Sake Viva!” to boost alcohol consumption in the country.

On the campaign’s website, creative types can make their suggestions for new services, products, designs, or even new ways to boost the sale of sake, whiskey, shōchū, as well as beer and wine.

Regardless, the aiml is to appeal to younger consumers to reignite the market that was worth 3.5 billion yen ($2.5 billion) in 2020. “The domestic market for alcoholic beverages is shrinking due to demographic changes such as the declining birth rate and aging population, and lifestyle changes due to the impact of Covid-19,” the campaign site says.

A decline in consumption that represents a loss of revenue for the current government, which relies heavily on the revenue from this market to replenish its coffers. In 2021, according to the tax agency, Japan genereated nearly 8.1 billion dollars thanks to taxes related to alcoholic beverages.

Backlash to the campaign

While a movement of going alcohol-free or consuming less alcohol seems to be underway globally among Gen Z, this promotion of drinking is not going down well in Japan.

A survey from the country’s health ministry in 2019 found that 29.4 percent of people in their 20s don’t consume any alcohol while many more (26.5) only drink on rare occasions.

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On social networks, many people are upset. The Japan Times reports that the government’s “pro-alcohol” campaign is “generating negative reactions” on the web. Many are pointing out a mixed message from the government given that Japan’s Ministry of Health has warned several times against the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption in the past.

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