“Kokushu” Project to “Cool Japan”

By Kosuke Kuji

Japanese liquor has been a culture which is unique to Japan since the ancient times. It exists only in Japan, and people started to call it “Kokushu” (the alcoholic beverages of the nation) some time ago. Every Japanese Prime Minister in the recent past wrote the word “Kokushu” in kanji in his own handwriting on a fancy paper message board, and presented it to Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association soon after being inaugurated.

The concept of “sake = National liquor” is highly recognized, and one that the Japanese sake industry is proud of; however, among the general public, this national value is not very recognized, and the difference in recognition level has been an issue at times.

In the meantime, under the rule of the Democratic Party, the government has made it clear by Motohisa Furukawa, Minister of State for National Policy, to go forward with supporting overseas development of Japanese saké and shochu by positioning them as the “National Liquor”.

This is a policy in which the nation recognizes sake and shochu made in Japan as the “National Liquor”, and promote them to the world. This was the long-awaited official recognition and announcement, and was very exciting to the brewing industry.

By recognizing them as the “National Liquor”, sales channels will be expanded, increase in demand in overseas will be encouraged, and they will be presented as a part of the Japanese culture approved by the Japanese government.

After the Liberal Democratic Party took office, the name of the policy was changed to “Cool Japan”. The overseas promotion policy for the national liquor became more energized, and is still getting stronger.

The Cool Japan policy is purposed not only for overseas promotion, but also for the rejuvenation of relevant regions, and expansion of demand for rice, the ingredient of sake and shochu, which resulted in supporting sake and shochu by a horizontal connection including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Moreover, this support policy got linked to the introduction of the value of Japanese liquor targeted to the tourists who visit Japan from overseas.

Gradually, Japanese sake and shochu are getting recognition in the world as a part of typical traditional Japanese culture, and the government has issued an official “Guarantee”. We would like to keep further promoting public awareness of Japanese sake and shochu as the National Liquor, not only in the United States, but all over the world. We, breweries, will strive for it, looking forward to the arrival of the era where people come to Japan from all over the world to enjoy Japanese liquor.