Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saké & Diplomacy

What will President Barack Obama think about Saké? We might found out in November. And why is that so?

As Saké consumption in Japan has been declining for years, it is always good to hear hopeful news. A recent article in The Japan Times Online, "Presence of Sake Grows in Diplomacy," provided such good news.

When the Foreign Ministry of the Japanese government held banquets for foreign dignitaries, they used to serve mainly wine. Wine was considered easier to handle as well as easier to pair with food. Plus it was something foreign dignitaries were familiar with, and would enjoy. But Saké has begun to be served more at these dinners, promoting this national treasure. I think that is a great idea, to spread the love for this special ambrosia.

Between 2005 and 2009, the Foreign Ministry bought 2,500 bottles of wine worth about $149,000 and only 737 bottles of Saké, valued at about $21,000. The regular use of Saké at formal functions got a major boost at the Group of Eight summit in July 2008. The dignitaries toasted with Saké and this tradition has started to catch on to other banquets and celebrations.

This is not contained to just events within Japan as Japanese diplomatic missions overseas have also been heavily promoting Saké. They have participated in the organization of large-scale Saké tastings in places such as London, Sydney and The Hague. This will hopefully lead to a larger audience worldwide for Saké.

President Barack Obama may have his opportunity to drink some Saké at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to be held in Yokohama in November. If Saké continues to be served at their goverment functions, then President Obama may lift an ochoko, toast "Kanpai" and drink some Nihonshu.

What will the President think about Saké?

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