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Changes to the tax system starting October spells bad news for drinkers in Japan, as tax rates will be hiked for some alcoholic drinks.

Prices will also be raised for some tobacco products.

Taxes for so-called third-segment quasi-beer are slated to rise ¥9.8 per 350 milliliters, while those for fruit-based alcohol, such as wine, are slated to rise ¥3.5 for the same volume.

Sales of third-segment beer-like beverages, which are cheaper than regular beer, had been on the rise since the consumption tax rate hike last October led people to cut back on spending. A spike in consumption of food and drinks at home amid the novel coronavirus epidemic has also contributed to the boom.

On the other hand, taxes for regular beer will be lowered by ¥7 per 350 milliliters, while those for sake will be reduced by ¥3.5 for the same amount.

The government plans to unify the tax rates for beer, happōshu quasi-beer and third-segment drinks to around ¥54 by 2026.

Japan Tobacco Inc. and two other tobacco giants gained approval from the Finance Ministry to raise tobacco prices. Prices of some cigars, popular for their cheapness at ¥300 to ¥400 per box, will be raised to levels on par with cigarettes over two years, resulting in a price hike of around dozens of yen per box.

Meanwhile, public broadcaster NHK’s viewing fees will be lowered starting October.

Viewers of NHK’s terrestrial broadcasts who pay with credit cards or through bank accounts will see their monthly fees fall ¥35 to ¥1,225.

The fees of plans including satellite broadcasts will be reduced by ¥60 to ¥2,170.

Last October, NHK did not raise its fees despite the consumption tax rate hike.

Moreover, the unemployment insurance system will be changed in October to allow people who leave their jobs of their own volition to receive benefits starting two months after unemployment instead of three months at present.

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