Japan’s bid to get young to drink more meets online backlash

A campaign by Japan’s tax agency to prop up alcohol revenue by encouraging young people to drink up has met fierce backlash on social media, with users criticising the taxman for dictating people’s lifestyle choices.

The National Tax Agency’s “Sake Viva!” idea competition, which is seeking business plans from young people or groups to help “revitalise” the nation’s liquor industry, was launched in July and gained traction on Twitter this week after local and overseas media outlets reported the move.

The country’s breweries have struggled to stop a drop in alcohol sales as a result of more health-conscious consumers, aging society and changing tastes among the youth. The sharp drop in alcohol sales in bars and restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic led to producers resorting to promoting lower-alcohol beverages, as rising inflation further squeezes profits.

The “Sake Viva” hashtag on Twitter was filled with heated responses. One user called the campaign “ridiculous,” saying young people avoiding alcohol should be perceived as a good thing. This sentiment was shared by others. Some users noted that the campaign was not in line with health ministry guidance which encourages moderate drinking.
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