The Mainichi Shinbun reports on a New Year speech by Yoshimura Mieko, governor of Yamagata Prefecture, given to public servants and businesses at the prefectural hall as Japan got back to work on 4 January 2018.

 She spoke about the prefecture's successful bid to host the preliminary rounds for the sake division of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), which she described as an ideal chance to raise Yamagata's profile as a sake-producing region both inside and outside the area.

The IWC is described in the article as the largest wine evaluation event in the world. Sponsored by a UK publisher, it was first held in 1984 and introduced a sake division in 2007. The Dewazakura brewery in Tendō, just outside the prefectural capital Yamagata City, took the overall IWC Champion Sake award in 2016 and the prefecture laid on the charm to have the sake arm of the competition held in Yamagata in May 2018. According to the prefecture, their accounts for the current financial year include a supplementary budget passed in December 2017 with JPY 14,000,000 to cover the invitation. (The Japanese financial year runs from May to April.)

Governor Yoshimura added that the Year of the Dog is supposed to be a good one for new endeavours, and that she expects dogged pursuit of growth. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) She was also confident about hosting the IWC sake competition, pointing out that Yamagata is the only area in Japan with its own Geographical Indication (GI). 

The IWC site states that judging for the sake division will take place in May 2018, with medals and trophies announced on 18 May and champions announced at the IWC awards dinner in London on 10 July 2018.

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