The Japanese have been drinking much less on average, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas in 1995, a person would on average consume roughly 26 gallons a year, that amount fell to 19.8 gallons in 2020. Since 1.7% of Japan's tax revenue derives from taxes on alcohol, this drop in alcohol consumption is regarded by the country's National Tax Agency as a problem. Less drinking means less revenue — a fact the NTA finds hard to swallow with the country facing a $348 billion deficit.
The Japan Times reported that Japan's liquor tax revenue experienced a historic drop in 2020, falling by nearly $812 million. The pandemic's impact on restaurants and bars that would otherwise have served alcohol is said to be partly to blame.
The NTA also believes social factors to have been responsible. Those who began to work from home are believed to have begun questioning "whether they need to continue the habit of drinking with colleagues to deepen communication."
Additionally, the Japanese population is shrinking and aging. Citizens over the age of 65 constitute more than a quarter of the population.
In an effort to rejuvenate this revenue stream, the Japanese government has recently launched a campaign to get more young people drinking more alcohol. Part of this initiative involves a nationwide competition inviting persons ages 20-39 to provide ideas for ways to prompt people to drink.
Entrants to the "Sake Viva!" competition are asked to provide "new products and designs" as well as new ways to encourage people to drink at home. The winning plan will be adopted and announced on November 10 in Tokyo.
Although the NTA is urging people to drink more, Japan's health ministry noted it has not co-operated with the agency on its contest, stating campaigners and participants ought to be mindful of the "appropriate amount of alcohol consumption."