Japan: Sports Sponsorship Fuels Beer Consumption
Beer consumption in Japan is projected to rise by about 70% between September and November. The reason is Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup for which global beer giant Heineken is an official sponsor.
The Dutch multinational beer giant Heineken owns the sponsorship rights to the Rugby World Cup, which is to be held in cities across Japan from September 20 to November 2, 2019.
Heineken, the second largest beer producer worldwide, expects demand for beer to surge because of the many rugby fans who are due to visit from overseas to watch the tournament. Preparing for this, the brewery plans to increase production by 80% for September compared to the same time last year.
The sports industry has a long history of collaborating with Big Alcohol for profit. The alcohol industry in turn uses the opportunity to align alcohol – a harmful substance – with sports – an activity seen as healthy. The negative effects, specially for children exposed to alcohol marketing are massive.
Alcohol policy in Japan
As reported by WHO, total alcohol consumption in Japan has risen to 8 litres in 2016. This is above the average of the WHO Western Pacific region.
In Japan, alcohol causes:
- 10,000+ deaths due to liver cirrhosis,
- 20,000+ deaths due to cancer, and
- 5.7% of Japanese men suffer from alcohol use disorders.
Unfortunately despite the statistics, Japan has no regulations of alcohol marketing. Neither does the country have restrictions on sales of alcohol. Under such circumstances, beer giant Heineken does have free reign on marketing throughout the Rugby World Cup.
Heineken has been caught up in many ethics scandals ranging from violating human rights to tax evasion and trade agreement violations.
Allowing more exposure for such a company and its health-harmful product, through the Rugby World Cup, is questionable. Evidence shows that alcohol marketing leads to earlier onset of alcohol use and to more alcohol use of those who are already consuming alcohol.