The government and ruling bloc are discussing plans to allow the issuing of new licenses for the production of sake meant for export amid the growing popularity of the drink overseas, according to informed sources.

New entries are effectively not allowed at present, but the government and ruling bloc, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, hope to support an expansion of sake exports with a partial lifting of the restriction, the sources said.

A revision to the liquor tax law is expected to be included in a tax system reform package for fiscal 2020.

To acquire the license for sake production, manufacturers are required to produce at least 60 kiloliters a year. The rule has been introduced so that sake supplies will not become excessive amid sluggish domestic demand.

But the government and ruling bloc judged that an increase in sake production for export would not affect the domestic balance of supply and demand, the sources said. They plan to allow small sake business operators to produce sake for export.

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