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The government of Japan is encouraging its youth to drink more by launching a nationwide competition. The younger generation of the country drinks less alcohol than their parents- a move that has hit taxes on beverages like sake (rice wine).

As a result, Japan's tax agency has come up with a nationwide competition to prop up alcohol revenue by encouraging young people to drink up.

The National Tax Agency has launched the Sake Viva! campaign in which the tax agency has asked 20- to 39-year-olds to come up with proposals to help revitalise the popularity of alcoholic drinks--whiskey, beer, or wine.

In Japan, several youngsters quit alcohol during the Covid pandemic which has led to a decline in liquor sales.

A sharp fall in alcohol sales at restaurants and bars during the Covid-19 pandemic has seen producers resort to promoting even lower-alcohol products while rising inflation is further squeezing profits.

However, the Sake Viva campaign has received a barrage of criticism from the netizens. One user called the campaign “ridiculous," saying young people avoiding alcohol should be perceived as a good thing. This sentiment was followed by others, some users noting the campaign appeared to be at odds with health ministry guidance that encourages moderate drinking.

Japan’s health ministry said that while it wasn’t involved in the campaign, it understood the spirit of the promotion was in line with its view that people should “drink responsibly."

The National Tax Agency said in response to queries from Bloomberg News that the campaign aims to promote the alcohol industry at a time when issues ranging from Covid to a shrinking population mean fewer young people are drinking. It’s a business promotion to encourage growth and “in no way is it encouraging people to drink excessively," the agency said.

Japan collected about 1.1 trillion yen ($8 billion) in tax from liquor sales, or around 2% of total tax revenue in fiscal 2020, down 13% from 2016, according to tax agency data. The volume of alcohol taxed has steadily shrunk to 7.7 billion liters as of 2020, down nearly 10% from a decade ago, estimates from the tax agency show.

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