Some time before the coronavirus outbreak put a damper on this year’s hanami (blossom viewing) parties and other social activities, the media had already noted that the decline in alcohol consumption by younger Japanese has been accelerating. This phenomenon even made the front page of the Nikkei Marketing Journal (Feb. 21).

Citing data from Suntory Holdings in 2019, the article also noted that the market for nonalcohol and low-alcohol beverages such as beer and chūhai (cocktails made with neutral grain spirits and mixers) had quadrupled over the previous decade to 22.65 million cases.

The Kyoto-based distiller concluded that more people are drinking nonalcoholic beverages not merely as a substitute for alcohol — as would be the case among drivers or expectant mothers — but because they prefer it.