The Japanese government has been hit in the pocket by an unusual problem – its young people aren’t drinking enough.

Since the pandemic began, bars and other premises selling alcohol have been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions, causing sales – and liquor tax revenues – to plummet in the world’s third-largest economy.

The government’s solution? Launch a contest to find new ways to encourage young people to drink more.

The “Sake Viva!” campaign, overseen by the National Tax Agency, invites participants to submit ideas on how to “stimulate demand among young people” for alcohol through new services, promotional methods, products, designs and even sales techniques using artificial intelligence or the metaverse, according to the official competition website.

But not everyone is on board, with the competition and tax agency receiving criticism from some people online.

“Are you kidding me?” one Twitter user wrote. “Staying away from alcohol is a good thing!”

Others pointed out that it seemed inappropriate for a government agency to encourage young people to drink, and it appeared the campaign had not considered health risks or sensitivity toward people dealing with alcoholism.