Japan wants young adults to drink more booze

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Looking for new ways to boost revenue, Tokyo’s tax authority will hold a competition for ideas on how to revive liquor sales

The Japanese tax collector has launched a contest calling on citizens to come up with innovative ways to bring up falling alcohol sales, hoping to encourage young adults to hit the bar more often and give a shot to government revenues. 

The National Tax Agency (NTA) has dubbed the new campaign ‘Sake Viva!’ after Japan’s iconic rice wine, calling on anyone aged between 20 and 39 to submit business ideas for the country’s alcohol industry, which is lagging in the wake of Covid-19 and declining drinking habits nationwide. 

As noted on an official government website that caught international attention this week following local media reports, the contest will run until September 9, and asks for “new products and designs” as well as ways to promote drinking at home. Winners will be invited to an awards ceremony in Tokyo in November, and the taxing body has vowed to back investments into the winning idea.

The NTA noted that taxes on alcohol made up about 3% of the government’s tax revenue in 2011, but had dropped to 2% by 2020, citing a need to revitalize booze sales.

As seen among the same age group in other countries, young adults in Japan have significantly cut down their alcohol consumption in recent decades, with average adult intake per year falling from 100 liters in 1995 to 75 liters in 2020.

Though Japan’s health ministry said it was not participating in the initiative, it voiced hopes that the tax agency would encourage only the “appropriate amount of alcohol consumption,” and stated that it remains in contact with the NTA on the issue.

The contest is not the first of its kind, as the NTA rolled out a project called ‘Enjoy Sake!’ last year in a similar effort to gin up new business ideas. It’s unclear whether the last campaign saw success given the ongoing drop in revenues, but the agency is taking another crack at the idea regardless.

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