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Japan: Looking Out for the National Interest

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Friends, Japan has a problem. Its population isn’t drinking enough anymore. And the nation is trying to do something about it:

Young people turning away from alcohol is generally welcomed as a positive trend. But it’s bad news both for booze companies, and governments that are watching lucrative alcohol tax revenues dry up along with the populace.

Japan’s National Tax Agency is clearly concerned: It’s taking an unorthodox approach to try to get young Japanese adults to drink more, in an online contest dubbed Sake Viva!

The project asks young people to submit business plans to lure a new generation into going on the sauce, saying Japan’s sake, beer and liquor makers are facing challenges that the pandemic has made even worse.The contest is aimed at “revitalizing the liquor industry and solving problems.” But it has hit a sour note with many people online, prompting pointed questions about why a government that has previously encouraged people to drink responsibly or abstain is now asking for help in getting young people to drink more.

Writer and journalist Karyn Nishi highlighted the controversy, saying Japan was going in the opposite direction most modern governments are pursuing and stressing that alcohol is inherently dangerous. As discussions erupted about the contest on Twitter, one popular comment praised young people who aren’t drinking, saying they believe the social costs imposed by alcohol aren’t outweighed by tax revenues.

Pretty clear Japan is simply more progressive and forward-thinking than the rest of the world.

Also, the next time you are in Tokyo, I strongly recommend Inkhorn Brewing in Tokyo, which had the best beer of any non-U.S. brewery I was in during this summer of travel to three relatively beer-advanced nations. They also pour the fullest pints I have ever seen.

Oh, and that picture is from some beer manga I found at a brewery somewhere.

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