Japan adds sake to list of tax-free items for tourists

JIJI

Foreign tourists now can buy sake and other alcoholic beverages tax-free at breweries and distilleries in Japan.

Launched on Sunday, the tax-free program is expected to give a further boost to already brisk exports of sake and make tours to breweries, wineries and distillers more popular with visitors to the country, people in the industry said.

Under the program, if a tourist buys a 720-ml bottle of seishu (refined sake) at a shop on the premises of a government-designated brewery where it was produced, the ¥86.4 liquor tax and the 8 percent consumption tax will be waived.

Since July, the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association has held workshops to help breweries prepare for an ever greater rise in tourism.

“We are teaching English phrases to explain how to make sake and other products interesting to foreign visitors,” said an official of the association, who said applications are coming in from all over the country.

According to the National Tax Agency, approval to waive the taxes had been given to 48 producers of alcoholic beverages in 24 of the nation’s 47 prefectures as of Sunday.

“We hope we can be a nucleus for attracting foreign visitors and contribute to the revitalization of our region,” said an official at Koganeishuzou, a designated liquor maker in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture.