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The government plans to boost overseas sales of domestically produced sake and other alcoholic beverages by picking some 800 producers as special exporters, Jiji Press learned recently.

The export campaign for sake as well as the distilled spirits of whisky, shōchū and awamori, to be announced shortly, is expected to be a major engine for the government to achieve its goal of expanding farm, forestry, fisheries and food exports to ¥5 trillion in 2030, informed sources said.

Under the initiative, the designated makers, about 600 of which will be sake brewers in 45 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, will receive financial support for sales promotion targeting retailers.

As many as 42 sake brewers will be designated as special exporters in Niigata Prefecture, home to many leading brewers, including Asahi-Shuzo Sake Brewing Co., the maker of the globally popular Kubota brand.

Elsewhere in the country, Yamagata Prefecture will have 29 sake brewers eligible for the government aid, followed by Hyogo Prefecture, with 27, Ishikawa Prefecture, with 26, and Fukushima Prefecture, with 20.

“We’ll carry out sales campaigns to increase exports,” an Asahi-Shuzo official said.

As for sake, the government aims to achieve exports of ¥60 billion in 2025, up 2.5-fold from the 2020 level.

Currently, the main overseas sake customers are Japanese restaurants in Asia and the United States.

Noting that sake should hit the shelves of large-scale retail stores to meet the target, a government official said, “We need to show (consumers abroad) a way of drinking that goes well with not only Japanese dishes but local cuisines.”

The initiative will also cover about 180 shōchū and awamori producers, mainly in southern prefectures such as Okinawa, and around 30 whisky makers including those based in Tokyo.

The government has already announced its intensive export support for 23 items including beef and apples.

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