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Entrepreneur Nao Kohara sits at a table in his favorite neighborhood bar, checking emails on his laptop computer and sipping a glass of sake.

Some of his brightest business ideas have been hatched over a few drinks — including the concept behind his latest venture, a startup called Nihonshu Oendan (sake supporters). Despite the fact that, according to government statistics, sake shipments in 2016 were the lowest since 1955, Kohara’s fledgling company is flourishing.

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