Is Japan's after-work drinking culture a thing of the past? -- Oct 08
Japan's corporate culture traditionally demands long hours, commitment to the company, and frequent drinking sessions. Peer-pressure is still there, but a younger generation of workers is beginning to abstain.

As Issei Izawa finishes his degree at a Japanese university, he has a few concerns about where he will work after graduation.

What career opportunities can a potential employer provide? How much will he be paid, and how many hours will he be expected to work in a country where time spent in the office remains a critical yardstick of achievement?

But Izawa is also worried about how much he is going to be expected to drink.

"I've never been a big drinker, but I have older friends and I've heard stories from them about being forced to go drinking with the boss every night after work," said 20-year-old Izawa, who is from Yokohama. "It's part of being at a Japanese company, I know, but I play sports and I don't want to give that up or drop in performance just to go drinking."

"If I do come under pressure to drink, I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said.

Drinking has long been a major part of Japanese culture. Chinese envoys as far back as the third century reported that the inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago were "much given to strong drink."

Alcohol still plays an important part in everyday life. Formal wedding rites in temples involve a traditional shot of sake. In the 19th century, Japanese companies embraced Western beer brewing technology. Now, beer, wines and spirits are available 24 hours a day in Japan's network of convenience stores.

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