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The younger generation drink less alcohol than their parents, which has led to a reduction in alcohol taxes.
The National Tax Agency decided to intervene and come up with ideas to reverse this trend.
To make drinking more attractive and stimulate the industry, the Sake Viva! competition was launched
The competition asks people aged 20 to 39 to submit their business ideas to increase demand among their peers — be it Japanese sake, shochu, whiskey, beer or wine.
Tax officials running the competition say new habits, partly formed during the Covid pandemic, and an aging population have led to lower alcohol sales.
They invite contestants to come up with promotions, branding, and even innovative designs using artificial intelligence.
Japanese media reports that the reaction has been mixed, with some criticism of the attempt to promote an unhealthy habit.
Contestants have until the end of September to submit their ideas. The best plans will then be developed with the help of experts before final proposals are submitted in November.
The campaign website says Japan's alcohol market is shrinking and the country's older demographic — along with a decline in the birth rate — is an important factor behind this.
Recent figures from the tax agency show that people were drinking less in 2020 than in 1995, with annual averages plummeting from 100 liters to 75 liters.
Excise tax revenue on alcohol has also declined over the years. According to The Japan Times, over the forty years from 1980 to 2020, it fell from 5% of total revenue to 1.7%.
The World Bank estimates that nearly a third (29%) of Japan's population is aged 65 or over, the highest in the world.
Concerns about the future of sake — is not the only problem facing the Japanese economy — there are concerns about offering younger cadres for certain types of jobs, and future —care for the elderly.
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