Photo: Getty Images
  /  08.21.2022

Japan’s National Tax Agency has launched an online contest called “Saka Viva!” to urge young people to drink more alcohol in an effort to reverse declining sales.

The project wants people between ages 20 and 39 to come up with new ideas to help revitalize the industry by submitting business plans that would help promote alcoholic beverages “among the younger generation.” It wants contestants to come up with promotions, branding, and even cutting-edge plans involving artificial intelligence whether it’s for Japanese sake, shochu, whisky, beer, or wine. The country’s tax agency also suggests creative ways people can help promote the consumption of alcohol, such as using the metaverse.

Contestants have until the end of September to submit their ideas, and the best plans will then be picked and developed with the help of experts before the final proposals are presented in November.

 

According to the website specially created for the “Saka Viva!” contest, Japan’s alcohol industry is shrinking and the country’s older demographic – alongside declining birth rates and the COVID-19 pandemic – are significant factors behind it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on tax sales of alcoholic drinks in Japan. The COVID-19 restrictions have kept many people from visiting Japan’s izakaya (pub) businesses, and people simply aren’t drinking enough at home, according to the country’s tax agency. In 2020, revenues fell by ¥110 billion ($800 million) from the previous year to ¥1.13 trillion. The Japan Times reported that it was the largest fall in alcohol tax revenues since 1989.

The “Saka Viva!” contest has prompted mixed criticism and pointed questions from the Japanese media about how a government that has previously encouraged people to drink responsibly or abstain is now asking for help with getting the young generation to drink more alcohol.

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