Japan is in a league of its own when it comes to drinking. Sure, the pubs of England may be filled with raucous drunken shenanigans and those in Argentina have surely experienced their fair share of malbec-filled late nights, but nowhere else is publicly knocking back a cold one (or two or five) as socially sanctioned as it is in Japan.
What some might consider chronic alcoholism in the United States is perfectly okay, and in many cases considered good for your career, in this land of sake and sochu. So it came as no surprise to us to learn that Japan landed on the very top of the list of the countries that think drinking alcohol is morally acceptable.
A recent survey conducted by The Pew Center as part of their Global Attitudes Project asked the people of 40 nations if they personally believe that drinking alcohol is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The 10 countries that were the least accepting of alcohol may not come as a surprise, considering most of them have a significant population of practicing Muslims.
However, when we get to the top 10 countries that are most accepting of alcohol, things start to get interesting.
As you can see, Japan is clearly at the top of the list with 66% of those surveyed agreeing that drinking alcohol is morally acceptable and a mere 6% outright disapproving of the act. The Czech Republic, Germany, and Britain follow the island nation with 46, 41, and 38%, respectively.
It’s worth noting that no other country but Japan has so many people agreeing that imbibing booze is perfectly okay and so few people against it. Look at the Czech Republic in a distant second place, with 46% approving of alcohol. Not too shabby, but considering a whopping 22% of the nation will disapprove of the wine in your hand, it doesn’t make for a utopic drinking locale.
Alcohol has a very intense, almost magical effect on the people of Japan. It’s a social “get out of jail free” card that grants the holder the right to lasso ones necktie securely around ones head while shouting the words of Lady Gaga in broken English atop the most precariously positioned of tables. It transforms even the most cautious of workers into an entirely new creature that doesn’t mind arm wrestling their superior amongst yakitori grease and discarded edamame shells. And it turns sworn work enemies into best friends after a third beer. Most social barriers are willfully taken down after the first intoxicating sip, allowing everyone to socialize with groupmates of all levels and ask the burning questions social convention dictates cannot be uttered during normal business hours.
Japan’s drinking culture also has the power to turn more than a few expats into something their mother would be ashamed of…but somehow, drinking every night is perfectly okay here. That’s not to say that Japan drinks more than other countries, it certainly does not, but the sheer enthusiasm with which one drinks in this country, and how entirely accepted the act is, is something unique.
Of course, public opinion on public drunkeness is slowly changing in Japan, but most “disapproving” of the act is in the form of a slightly tilted mouth and an almost imperceptible head shake.
So it’s no wonder Japan is securely positioned at the very top of the alcohol acceptance ladder. The country’s combination of mid-week company drinking parties, all-you-can-drink restaurant specials, no laws against drinking in public, and the widely accepted notion of nomunication, a portmanteau combining “nomu,” the Japanese word for “drinking,” and “communication,” all combine to foster an open drinking culture. Although excessive drinking is a real problem for some, this acceptance of alcohol has given rise to hanami, karaoke box adventures, and the realization that it’s alright to get a little wild to relieve the stress of daily life. For better or worse, Japan remains a drinker’s paradise.
Source: Pew Global
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