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Japanese tax officials holding contest to encourage drinking…and alcohol tax collection

Here in the United States, sin taxes were the lone revenue bright spot for many states, at least early during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it's a different story in Japan.

Alcohol consumption among younger Japanese already had been dropping pre-COVID, in part due to a national plan launched in the 1990s to reduce alcohol-related health and societal problems. When COVID spread across the globe, drinking in Japan, especially among younger people, dropped even more.

The result is that current liquor tax collection in Japan has plummeted.

Japan's liquor tax revenue in fiscal year 2020 dropped by more than $813 million from the prior year. It was the largest decline in three decades.

Sake Viva contest: So now the National Tax Agency (NTA) is running a contest to get its young people raising more glasses.

The Sake Viva! campaign, aimed at the 20-to-39 age group, wants ideas for new products and alternative opportunities for enjoying alcoholic beverages.

Contestants have until Sept. 9 to submit what the NTA is calling business plans that can help revive drinking in the East Asian nation. Entrants are encouraged to use artificial intelligence and metaverse technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, to come up with new ways to appeal to modern changing lifestyles.

Finalists will be invited to an expert consultation in October. A final tournament scheduled in November in Tokyo. The eventual winner's plan will receive support to help commercialize it nationally.

Not everyone is cheering: Not surprisingly, some are not impressed. Many took to social media also to question

… or bash the government-sponsored contest.

As for the country's health officials, they don't appear eager to get involved. There's been no comment from the Japanese Health Ministry.

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