The Bizarre Way Japan Is Trying To Get Young People To Drink More

Japan's work culture has a reputation for intensity, so when businessmen and women get off of work, they turn to alcohol to relieve stress (via Japan Dev). "Alcohol here plays the role of psychiatry in the West," Charles Pomeroy, former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, told Psychology Today. "I think the country would explode without it." The connection between alcohol and work in Japan is apparent at after-work parties, or nomikai, which are so commonplace that companies consider them a valuable tool for employees to bond with one another (via Link Japan Careers).

However, the risk of excessive drinking is a concern. According to Psychology Today, as of 2019 alcohol consumption had quadrupled since 1960 in Japan, which opposes the downward trend in other industrialized nations. Tetsutaro Tatsuki, a person affiliated with the All Nippon Abstinence Association, told Reuters in 2009 that in Japan, individuals struggling with alcoholism "were seen as people with personality problems." The drinking culture has been passed on through older Japanese workers. But the younger generation is attempting to flip the script and turn down invitations for after-dinner drinks and drink less in general (via DW). Many young people in Japan might be resisting the drinking culture, but now the government is working to move them in a different direction.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Japan's National Tax Agency is hosting a business plan contest

According to The Japan Times, in 2020, the Land of the Rising Sun experienced the largest fall in liquor tax revenue in 31 years, to the tune of roughly $803 billion (¥110 billion). The pandemic is partially to blame for this drop, as well as "the declining birthrate and aging population" (via the Sake Viva's official website). Japan's National Tax Agency is addressing this huge drop in revenue with a business plan contest called Sake Viva! (via NPR).

The contest invites Japanese residents between the ages of 20 and 39 to propose a business plan that would encourage more young people to drink. To make sure the plan is extra hip for the youngsters, the agency recommends that entrants incorporate the Metaverse and AI to promote popular alcoholic beverages like whiskey, sake, and shochu. Entrants must submit their proposal by September 9 and the plans will be judged in Tokyo on November 10.

According to The Guardian, the incentive for young people to enter the contest is that the agency will commercialize the winner's proposal. Not everyone thinks encouraging increased alcohol consumption is a good look, so it's no surprise that the contest has had its fair share of backlash. Karyn Nishi, a writer and journalist, took to Twitter to mention the dangers of alcohol consumption. According to NPR, taxpayers are also concerned with how much this program will cost.