Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
In the UK, most young adults certainly don’t need any encouragement to have the odd drink (and then some…)
But believe it or not, Japan is so keen to boost people’s alcohol consumption post Covid that it has launched a national competition.
Named Sake Viva!, the government is hoping the initiative will “stimulate demand among young people”, and encourages people aged between 20 to 39 to submit ideas which could push more people to drink – be it new services, products, promotional methods or even sales techniques which may use artificial intelligence or the metaverse.
“The domestic alcoholic beverage market is shrinking due to demographic changes such as the declining birthrate and ageing population, and lifestyle changes due to the impact of Covid-19,” says the government website.
It adds that the mission has been devised to “appeal to the younger generation … and to revitalise the industry.”
People have until September 9th to submit their ideas to the Sake Viva! competition, and they must apply to Japanese alcohol.
The best innovators will be invited to pitch their plans at an expert consultation in October, and then battle for the winning title in a tournament in Tokyo, should they progress.
If people win, the tax office will help people’s ideas to be brought to life and fund their proposals.
Japan blames the Covid-19 pandemic primarily for the drop in young people drinking, after two years of restrictions meant that people weren’t allowed to drink in parks or streets, and restaurants were at one point banned and later discouraged from serving booze, too.
A 2019 Health Ministry survey uncovered that as many as 29.4 percent of people in their 20s didn’t drink alcohol at all, while 26.5 percent reported drinking rarely – and that was before Covid.
The campaign launched because the government noticed that liquor tax revenue had dropped by more than $813 million over the height of the Covid pandemic (2020), compared to the previous year, which is the largest decline in over 30 years.
This has added to financial difficulties the country now finds itself facing, and so government officials are hoping this competition might pose a solution.
Naturally, a competition encouraging young people to drink has somewhat divided the crowds since it was announced, with some claiming that a decline in drinking culture shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing.
“Wow, any person with common sense would be satisfied that young people avoid drinking alcohol, but not in #Japan,” wrote one person on Twitter.
Whilst another concurred: “This is totally sick to encourage drinking amongst young people in order to fill tax coffers and make money for companies producing alcoholic beverages. Terrible action on the part of the government of #Japan”.
“As long as they can collect taxes, I guess people’s health doesn’t matter,” penned somebody else.