The site t-news Web, a site for university students that claims to have over 30,000 subscribers from the Tokyo area, with a high percentage of them being medical students from Tokyo and Waseda Universities, took a look at underage drinking by university students.
Over the 20th and 21th of April 2013 323 undergraduate and postgraduate students completed an internet-based questionnaire. 51% of the sample were male, and 25% were from Tokyo University, 16% from Waseda University, 14% from Keio University, 3% from Hitotsubashi University, and 42% from other.
Judging by other forums, asking about the drinking age and carding is a common question for people planning to come to Japan, so as far as I am aware from other people’s input, there is very little if any checking of credentials except perhaps at night clubs. Most convenience stores and supermarkets, however, when you buy booze the till pops up a message on a screen asking you to confirm if you are 20 years old, usually both in English and Japanese. I’ve not actually bought any booze outside a pub for years, but it appears that there is no “NO” button on the till, so unless you shop in a school uniform no-one quite frankly bothers.
First, almost everyone in the sample was aware that it was illegal to drink whilst underage, which in Japan’s case is under 20 years old.
Q1: Have you ever drunk alcohol while underage? (Sample size=323)
Yes 61% No 39%
Q2: What do you think about underage drinking? (Sample size=323, multiple answer)
Votes Percentage Compared to overage drinkers, there are more people with problem drinking styles 157 48.6% It’s a problem because it is illegal 125 38.7% As one can drink from age 18 overseas, Japan’s laws are odd 92 28.5% There is a lot of pluses for drinking when it comes to making friends, participating in clubs, etc 80 24.8% It is nothing but evil 20 6.2%