Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
When Japanese civil servant Yoshiyuki Takeuchi started to lag his colleagues at work, he joined a growing number of his countrymen looking for solace from their problems in the bottom of a glass.
“People who started after me would go further in their careers just because they finished college. I tried to stop that sense of ‘why always me?’ by drinking,” said the 50-year-old, who quit university as his family couldn’t afford it.
With liquor consumption growing sixfold in the last 50 years in Japan to match the country’s economic affluence, alcoholism has become an increasing — but poorly grasped — problem in a nation where booze is readily available from convenience stores, where evening television is awash with liquor ads and where bonding with workmates is typically done over a few cold ones.
Economic losses from drinking problems top 6.6 trillion yen ($73 billion) a year and some 800,000 people, or 0.6 percent of the population, are estimated to be alcoholics. The rate is smaller than the United States or Europe, but is rising as more women and elderly become addicted to drink.