The Japanese authorities are daring an unexpected way to fill their budget shortfall: revitalizing alcohol consumption among the population. To this end, the financial administration has launched a campaign to collect ideas from young people aged 20 to 39 to make the drink popular again.
Alcohol can certainly accompany moments of conviviality or moments of relaxation, but above all it poses problems for public health and safety. However, liquors and spirits also allow the state to levy a tax on the sale of bottles.
However, the drop in alcohol consumption seen in Japan in recent years is helping the finances of an archipelago already in deep trouble. The government did not hesitate to use an atypical lever to try to get out of the economic trap. With “Saké Viva!” the National Tax Agency has just launched a campaign aimed at boosting alcohol consumption among the population.
The process is simple: it’s about reaching out to young people – that is, those in the 20-39 age group – and exploring their ideas for bringing new popularity to this declining practice. Interested parties have until September 9th to submit their proposals, after which the finalists will be invited to a gala in Tokyo on November 10th. And the state promises to market the winners’ proposals.
Why alcohol in Japan drinks the cup
The goals of Saké Viva!, according to the initiative’s official website, transmitted by the Guardian, are: First, “to offer new products, new designs” and new ways to promote alcohol consumption, particularly at home.
An interest in domestic consumption that, according to the Japanese government, is explained by one of the main reasons for the phenomenon. He believes the pandemic and its restrictions have gradually discouraged people from treating themselves to 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 not celebrated as it used to be. At the other end of the spectrum, population aging also appears to be playing a role, with the Financial Times noting that the proportion of Japanese aged 65 and over has exceeded a quarter of the population for the past eight years.
Decreased alcohol consumption
In any case, the numbers reported again by the Guardian are final. In 1995, the average Japanese drank 100 liters of alcohol a year. He only drinks 75 liters (for comparison, in 2018, as we mentioned in this article, a French person drank an average of 80 liters per year).
Beer in particular has suffered from the trend. Sales in Japan fell by 20% in one year between 2019 and 2020. The drop is nine points — over the same period — for can sales, according to famed brewer Kirin, who found the average number of beer bottles consumed per person in 2020 at 55.
The economic impact, of course, followed that diet: taxes on alcohol accounted for 1.7% of national tax revenues in 2020, compared to 3% in 2011 and 5% in 1980. Data that is the anecdote for a country dominated by a very serious financial crisis was hit, do not take into account catastrophe.
In fact, you don’t have to drink to make your head spin. The Japanese budget had a deficit of 48 trillion yen, or 259% of its GDP, in 2020, according to Les Echos, who describes this debt ratio as a ratio “unlike any developed country in modern history”. The business daily also notes that the Japanese deficit is four times the French overdraft.
For the great evils, therefore, the great remedies. But the drink is very bitter for some Japanese, according to the BBC, who assert that “Saké Viva!” evoked mixed reactions, to say the least. However, there are ideas that should make you want to have a drink. Like the one who plans to use the virtual universe of the metaverse to entrust famous actresses with the role of hostess or waitress.
For its part, the Ministry of Health is trying to keep a level head: it has limited itself to hoping that the campaign will also be an opportunity to remind everyone that it is advisable to drink “appropriately”.
Robin Verner Journalist BFMTV