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BEIJING (Kyodo) An association of sake brewers has held what it said was the first large-scale tasting in Beijing in a bid to boost sales of the Japanese rice wine in China.

The event organized Wednesday by the Japan Prestige Sake Association, which groups about 100 brewers across Japan, drew restaurant and liquor store operators.

“In the U.S. market, where sales of sake are growing remarkably, there has been an emergence of what I think you can call a sake boom in cities such as New York,” said Eisuke Iida, the group’s president. “There are similar movements in Asia, and I believe it is beginning here in China as well.”

China is the ninth-biggest importer of sake from Japan, with imports reaching 40 million yen in 2005, up 35 percent from the previous year, according to Iida. The figure is expected to rise this year further, up 40 percent from 2005, he said.

At Wednesday’s event, 15 sake makers provided 80 kinds of sake from across Japan, including Otokoyama from Hokkaido and Ichinokura from Miyagi Prefecture.

A growing number of sake makers, who have taken a blow from flagging domestic consumption, have been waging marketing drives overseas.