26 September 2023

JAPAN: Tax Agency urges public to drink up

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The Japanese National Tax Agency (NTA) has launched a nationwide competition calling for ideas to encourage people to drink more alcohol as a way to combat sliding tax revenues.

The Sake Viva! campaign asks 20- to 39-year-olds to come up with proposals to help revitalise the popularity of alcoholic drinks, which have fallen out of favour because of lifestyle changes among young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competition, which runs until 9 September, calls for “new products and designs” as well as ways to promote home drinking.

Entrants are also encouraged to explore sales methods.

While not condemning the campaign out of hand, the Ministry of Health said it hoped it would also remind people to remember to drink only the “appropriate amount of alcohol”.

The NTA said alcohol consumption had fallen from an average of 100 litres a person a year in 1995 to 75 litres in 2020.

The decrease in alcohol sales has hit Japan’s Budget, which is already running a deficit of more than ¥48 trillion ($A5 trillion).

Taxes on alcohol accounted for 1.7 per cent of Japan’s tax revenue in 2020, down from three per cent in 2011 and five per cent in 1980.

An NTA official said working from home during the pandemic resulted in many office workers coming to question whether they needed to continue the habit of drinking with colleagues after work to deepen communication.

“If this ‘new normal’ takes root, it will be an additional headwind for tax revenue,” the official said.

Tokyo, 22 August 2022

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