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Why Japan is urging young adults to drink more alcohol

Bars without booze gain popularity in Japan
Bars without booze gain popularity in Japan 03:20

The National Tax Agency in Japan is urging the public to drink more alcohol in a new contest aimed at young adults. The reason? Tax revenue from alcoholic beverages has been on the decline in recent decades as more and more young people in the country cut down or ditch booze entirely. 

The contest, called Sake Viva!, is open to individuals or groups between the ages of 20 and 39. Organizers are asking applicants to submit a business plan that would stimulate national alcohol demand among a younger demographic. 

Finalists will be judged in Tokyo on November 10 and the winner will receive support for their plan to be implemented.

But the new competition has faced criticism, as it comes on the tail of restrictions implemented on alcohol in Japan in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I think it is a terrible idea," bartender Suzumo Sakurai told CBS News correspondent Lucy Craft. "It's like trying to get people to smoke more." 

He said that Japan has a long tradition of bonding over alcohol but that people are beginning to wise up.

In a 2020 report, Japan's National Tax Agency reported a 10% decline in tax revenue from alcoholic beverages in comparison to that of 2019. According to the agency, factors like COVID-19 and a changing demographic have disrupted alcohol sales in Japan. 

Non-alcoholic bars and beverages with low alcohol content have gained popularity in Japan. 

"I'm not worried about my health, but I'd rather spend the money on nice meals," a student told Craft. 

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