The Japanese authorities are venturing down an unexpected path to make up for their budgetary shortfall: reviving alcohol consumption among its population. To do this, the tax authorities have launched a campaign to collect ideas from young people aged 20 to 39 to make the drink popular again.
Alcohol can certainly accompany convivial moments or moments of relaxation, but above all it poses public health and safety problems. However, liqueurs and spirits also allow the State to levy a tax on the sale of bottles.
However, the decline in alcohol consumption observed in recent years in Japan is contributing to the finances of an archipelago already in great difficulty. The administration did not hesitate to use an atypical lever to try to get out of the economic trap. With “Sake Viva!”the National Tax Agency has just launched a campaign to perk up alcohol consumption among its population.
The process is simple: it involves turning to young people – that is to say the age group from 20 to 39 years -, sounding out their ideas to give new popularity to this declining practice. Interested parties have until September 9 to submit their suggestions, after which the finalists will be invited to a gala in Tokyo on November 10. And the state promises to market the winner’s proposals.
Why alcohol drinks the cup in Japan
The objectives pursued by “Saké Viva!” are the following according to the official website initiative, relayed by the Guardian: first, “to offer new products and new designs” and new ways of promoting alcohol consumption, especially at home.
An interest in domestic consumption which is explained by one of the main origins of the phenomenon according to the Japanese government. He believes that the pandemic and its confinements would have gradually dissuaded people from allowing themselves a drink from time to time.
In addition to this very concrete factor, Japan also points to the influence of new lifestyles on society where alcohol is no longer celebrated as it may have been in the past. At the other end of the spectrum, the aging of the population also seems to play a role, the FinancialTimes relevant Moreover, for eight years, the portion of Japanese aged at least 65 has exceeded a quarter of the general population.
Decreased alcohol consumption
The figures, reported again by the Guardian, are in any case without appeal. In 1995, a Japanese person drank an average of 100 liters of alcohol per year. He only drinks 75 liters of it (for comparison, in 2018, as we mentioned in this article, a French person ingested 80 liters per year on average).
It is beer that has particularly suffered from the trend. Its sales fell by 20% in one year between 2019 and 2020 in Japan. The drop is nine points – during the same interval – for the sale of cans, according to the famous brewer Kirin, who established at 55 the number of bottles of beer consumed per person on average in 2020.
The economic impact has of course followed this diet: taxes on alcohol represented 1.7% of national tax revenue in 2020 compared to 3% in 2011 and 5% in 1980. Data that does not take the anecdote for a country hit by a very severe financial disaster.
In fact, you don’t need to drink to have your head spinning. The Japanese budget was in deficit by 48 trillion yen in 2020, or 259% of its GDP or the equivalent of 10,000 billion euros according to The echoes which describes this debt ratio as a ratio “which no developed nation had so far experienced in modern history”. The economic newspaper also notes that the Japanese deficit is four times the French overdraft.
To the great evils, therefore, the great remedies. But the potion is very bitter for some of the Japanese according to the BBC which assures that “Saké Viva!” elicited mixed reactions, to say the least. However, ideas that are supposed to make you want to have a drink again are beginning to emerge. Like the one planning to take advantage of the virtual universe of the metaverse in order to entrust the role of hostess or waitress to famous actresses.
The Ministry of Health, for its part, is trying to keep its mind clear: it has limited itself to hoping that the campaign will also be an opportunity to remind everyone that it is advisable to drink “reasonably”.