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Awamori Distillers Unworried by New Tax Hike

Date Posted: 2000-09-01

The price of the Okinawan awamori is scheduled to increase from Oct. 1, as its preferential tax treatment ends according to international trade agreements enacted in 1997. According to the agreements, the tax hikes were phased in in three stages, and this year’s tax hike will be the final one. The 24.4 percent hike in the alcohol tax will put awamori in the same tax bracket as imported alcoholic drinks.

Okinawa Awamori Distillers’ Association does not see much of a problem with the hike. “We were able to get the understanding of our customers for the two last tax hikes and were able to retain our market share. I’m sure that we’re able to do the same this time. And besides, we are about to launch a new style of high class awamori that will enable us to compete even better,” Nobuo Ishikawa, the chairman of Okinawa Awamori Distillers’ Association said.

The changes in the taxation of alcoholic drinks was prompted by the pressure from the U.S. and European nations who claimed that whisky and other alcoholic drinks produced by them were at disadvantage on the Japanese market because of the inequal taxation. However, after the change in the tax code, the local distillers engaged in aggressive marketing campaigns to push up the image of awamori, and the sales of imported whisky and other alcoholic drinks have actually gone down at the expense of awamori.

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