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Drinking age in Japan


The drinking age in Japan is 20, which is kind of a weird age. You can buy alcoholic beverages out of vending machines in Japan, which is kind of weird. Japan is an unusual place, from a cultural and pop-cultural sense. There are a lot of things that society approves of, and doesn’t approve of, that people in the West would consider strange. Beer can be sold through vending machines there. Some vending machines even have advertising that’s triggered by motion. They play beer commercials that are seen on the TV and heard on the radio. This would never normally be allowed in America, because it would be considered marketing to minors. Most of the machines were slowly phased out at the turn of the millennium, because of underage drinking. So, while Japan does have a lax attitude toward marketing beer, they certainly don’t have a lax attitude toward underage drinking.

Japan does have liberal laws when it comes to the selling and drinking of alcohol. Kiosks, train stations, and supermarkets sell beer. They sell it everywhere. It can also be consumed wherever someone wants, virtually. That being said, Japan is very strict about driving a car or riding a bike after drinking alcohol.

When it’s compared to the United States, the drinking age enforcement is very loose. Even though you can buy liquor and beer from vending machines on the street, you still have to pay attention to the legal minimum drinking age, and that’s 20. Drinking and driving is severely punished in Japan. You might wonder how they enforce the legal minimum drinking age in a country where alcohol is so easily available from vending machines. The Japanese police assure tourists that drinking by underage minors is not a problem because it’s illegal. While that may seem strange to visitors, once you’ve spent a little time in Japan, it’s not all that hard to understand. Whiskey and beer vending machines won’t card you though. Kids can and do buy alcohol and liquor at kiosks and supermarkets, and they bring it home to their parents, or they go out to a picnic or karaoke. Because of the lax attitude toward marketing and selling alcohol in Japan, there are a lot of kids that do underage drinking. It’s not so terribly hard for Japanese teenagers to get alcohol if they really want it.

A lot of the stores have signs now that say they don’t sell to anyone under the age of 20. There was some concern that those under 20 were buying from vending machines, so those were phased out previously. You can get questioned by teachers or the police if you look young, and you can get taken in if you are caught underage drinking.

The age for drinking alcohol is 20, and that’s also the age for purchasing and consuming alcohol. Japan is a country that’s set their drinking age two years higher than most European countries and one year less than America and other countries.



1 Comment

  1. Person says:

    This could not be more wrong. While the drinking age IS 20 in Japan, they are extremely lax on it. In the ten years I have lived in Japan I have personally only ever seen someone get carded ONCE.


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