Japan to set targets to fight heavy drinking

By THE JAPAN NEWS/YOMIURI Published: February 7, 2016

TOKYO — The Japanese government will introduce numerical targets in a bid to reduce the number of excessive drinkers, according to the draft of a plan to deal with alcohol-related health problems.

The draft plan says the government will establish at least one medical institution specializing in alcoholism, or a consultation center for the disease, per prefecture. It will also introduce numerical targets to lower the rate of excessive drinkers, who are highly likely to develop lifestyle-related diseases.

According to the draft plan, the government aims to reduce the percentage of excessive drinkers among male adults to 13 percent by fiscal 2020, from 15.8 percent in 2014. It also seeks to lower the percentage among female adults to 6.4 percent by the same fiscal year from 8.8 percent in 2014.

The yardstick for excessive drinking is at least two "go" (one go equals 180 milliliters — about 6 ounces) of sake for men every day, and one go or more daily of sake for women, according to the draft.

The government plans to endorse the basic plan at a Cabinet meeting in May. It will also urge each prefectural government to formulate original plans based on the particular situation in its area.

The government aims to promote the spread of knowledge about the risks of drinking. For example, excessive drinking can increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, and women tend to become alcoholics more quickly than their male counterparts.

As one measure to deal with alcoholism, the government plans to establish within five years local mental health and welfare centers, and local public health centers, as consultation bases where people with alcohol-related problems and their family members can easily seek advice at an early stage of the disease.