Why Japan Is Calling On Younger Generations To Drink More Alcohol

The COVID-19 pandemic created dramatic effects on alcohol consumption around the world. The pandemic slowed down business for many bars and restaurants that depend on alcohol sales for much of their revenue, and to draw in crowds. According to Time, more than 80,000 bars and restaurants closed their doors either temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic. The oldest recorded pub in the United Kingdom was even forced to close its doors due to the decrease in business.

The Covid-19 pandemic also changed many person's drinking habits, and often not for the better. According to the Substance Use Disorders Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, there was a 14% overall increase in the number of drinking days per month since the start of the pandemic (via CNN). It also reported that the number of heavy drinking days for women in particular increased significantly. Doctors have continued to warn the public of alcohol consumption's negative health impacts among these shifts.

CNN notes that despite these health risks, a new campaign by the Japanese government is designed to raise drinking among young persons to stimulate business and save many of the country's struggling Izakayas.

The campaign is meant to increase tax revenue

The Japanese government recently announced the "Sake Viva!" campaign (via CNN). This campaign will allow companies and individuals to submit plans that will promote drinking among younger Japanese generations. "The domestic alcoholic beverage market is shrinking due to demographic changes such as the declining birthrate and aging population, and lifestyle changes due to the impact of Covid-19," said the website.

Japan Today reports that nearly a third of the population is over the age of 65. According to The Guardian, uncertainty for the future has created a youth culture that is less engaged with traditional structures, which apparently includes the country's drinking culture. Japan is well known for many of its fine alcoholic beverages such as gin, whiskey, and sake. Despite these tasty offerings, CNN reports that drinking among Japan's youth is drinking far less than the previous generation. 

Per Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, about 30% of people between the ages of 40 and 60 drink three days or more each week. Only 7% of people in their 20's reported drinking at the same rate. Many of the campaign's critics point out that this reduction is a good thing. According to VinePair, the campaign's ultimate goal is to increase tax revenue. The campaign is being organized by the National Tax Agency, and while it is promoting more drinking, the national health agency is issuing reminders to drink in moderation.