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Toshie Hiraide reports on the Sankei Biz site on an exchange of opinions on how to increase sake exports, under the heading “Sake-Based National Tourism Development”.

It’s not clear what exactly this heading means, although it appears in the title of her 2012 paper in the Journal of the Brewing Society of Japan, and also on the site of her company Co-op SACH.

The CiNii academic journal site lists the title in English as “Sake Tourism Save Japan”. 

Hiraide is Sake Samurai Coordinator of the Sake Samurai Association, an organisation set up in 2004 as a junior council of the Japan Sake Brewers Association. The group bestows the title Sake Samurai on Japanese and non-Japanese people promoting sake and Japanese culture.

The meeting was called by Japanese politician Takeshi Ninoyu, head of the sake export promotion project team set up by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP). It was held on 28 November 2017, in the Members’ Office Building of the House of Councillors, Nagata-cho, Tokyo, and attended by representatives of 20 breweries across the country.

Hiraide reports that although sake exports in 2016 were over 1.5 billion yen, an increase of over 10% on the previous year, sake‘s full potential has yet to be fully realised. On Ninoyu’s advice, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) set up The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO) in April 2017. Ninoyu explained that he wanted to hear from more breweries in order to understand how exports of sake could be dramatically increased.

Many questions and comments were made, including:

  • How to acquire trademarks overseas
  • Labelling requirements
  • The future of tokutei meisho-shu (names of styles which have requirements imposed by the Japanese government, e.g. minimum milling ratio, rice varietal, brewing style, additives – often referred to as “premium” sake)
  • Domestic and international promotion of sake regionality
  • Demand for real information on the overseas sake market
  • From companies producing shōchū, increasing the added value of matured shōchū.

The panel responding to these questions were:

  • Councillor Minoru Namiki of the National Tax Agency, which is responsible for classifying alcoholic drinks
  • Kōichi Tamura, head of the liquor taxation section of the National Tax Agency
  • Katsunori Nakazawa, head of the export promotion section of the Food Industry Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which has experience promoting sake exports
  • Councillor Masaharu Amano of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Hiroshi Onomura, Assistant Director General of JFOODO

There was lively discussion and the two hours set for the meeting passed quickly.