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Food & Beverage

Japan shochu makers fight 1950s edict as new markets beckon

Age-old rule to differentiate tipple from whisky stands in way of overseas sales

A promotional event for Kirishima Shuzo, Japan's top shochu distiller. A rift within Japan's shochu industry is preventing some distillers from expanding their exports.

TOKYO -- Shochu makers eager to take advantage of the dismantling of import barriers by the U.S. and Europe are instead running into a serious regulatory roadblock at home.

Late last year, the U.S. eased import regulations on the size of shochu bottles, allowing distillers to ship spirits in their traditional 720-milliliter and 1.8-liter bottles. Previously, they had to rebottle their liquid exports, a requirement many considered a non-tariff barrier.

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