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“Novel Coronavirus”

The year 2020 started as an exciting year with Japan to host the Tokyo Olympics.
No one anticipated the unexpected coronavirus pandemic that swept the world merely several months later.
Japanese laws cannot enforce a national shutdown, while strict shutdown is enforced in the states like New York, encouraging residents to stay home in many regions to date.
I’m concerned for U.S. citizens hearing the latest developments in the U.S.
In Japan, the Tokyo Olympics was delayed 1 year as the Japanese government declared a state of emergency, “requesting” residents to stay at home. Although citizens did not stay home so much early on, many are now staying home to date as of April. As a Japanese national, I am proud to observe the cooperative spirit of Japanese citizens adhering to the government “request” to stay home despite no violation or penalties if this request was not adhered to.
On the other hand, the novel coronavirus impacted the entertainment and sports industries, with professional baseball and soccer games cancelled. Also, a nationally renowned comedian Ken Shimura – a favorite among our generation – succumbed to the coronavirus, which heightened the sensitivity of Japanese nationals to the coronavirus among, with many more now adhering to the stay at home request.
Schools in many prefectures are unable to start the new semester, while Iwate prefecture – home to sake producer Nanbu-bijin – is the only prefecture with no diagnosed case of the novel coronavirus as of April 25. Although “0” cases in Iwate prefecture may not continue much longer, local residents are diligently practicing social-distancing measures. With no end to this pandemic in sight yet, we must practice safety measures to ensure our survival.


しかし、その反面、芸能界やスポーツ界などでの新型コロナウィルスの蔓延は止まらず、プロ野球やサッカーはスタートが出来ません。さらには私達の世代のお笑いのヒーローだった志村けんさんがお亡くなりになり、これをきっかけに新型コロナウィルスへの日本国民の感度は高くなり、stay homeを守る雰囲気になっていきました。

by Kosuke Kuji

#Coronavirus #Japanese #request #IwatePrefecture

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Quarantine Edition)

Business districts throughout Tokyo are quiet as restaurants are dealt a major blow by the shutdown enforced due to the latest COVID-19 pandemic. Sales decline as transactions stopped for sake shops with reduced transactions between sake breweries and sake shops. Needless to say, all Japanese sake events are cancelled until fall. Many news outlets report the Japanese have a low-level awareness of the Coronavirus as domestic regulations are relaxed compared to other nations. Perhaps, it would make sense to prohibit people leaving their homes during this pandemic.
What could the sake industry do to survive this shutdown? What is the best strategy to survive this pandemic? In Tokyo, daily grocery outings are relatively unrestricted. Since customers cannot enjoy sake at restaurants, the only option left is to drink at home. Although sake cannot be considered an essential product to everyday life, being prohibited from consuming sake will no doubt cause stress for consumers. Sake shops dependent on restaurant sales are no doubt struggling. On the other hand, sake shops mainly delivering sake for major sake shops are apparently now busy with home deliveries of beer, etc. What about independent sake shops in the city? Sake shops deeply rooted in the community with mostly local customers are capable of surviving.
However, long-established sake shops with generations of customers are apparently struggling. The same can also be said about restaurants and other retail stores. Residents always come and go as they pass away, move in, or move away in a city constantly bustling and evolving. Restaurants flexible in accommodating the changing times are the ones that survive. However, the scale of these restaurants are relatively small, as my own is struggling to diligently sell products at the storefront, post fliers, visit client restaurants we have transactions with, and invest in promotions with the risk of incurring a deficit.
I recalled author Osamu Dazai famously said, “Human beings have 365 days a year, in which having 1 day, or even half-a-day with no worries is considered lucky.” He also said, “the ultimate standpoint of human pride is to be able to say I’ve struggled to death.” How will the sake industry overcome this pandemic? When the pandemic is finally over, what would be the economic state of the sake industry? And my own restaurant? Once this pandemic is over, I’d like to think the sake industry would be back even stronger. However, I’d like to first enjoy sake with my clients and colleagues. Next year, I hope to enjoy a beautiful view of the cherry blossoms as I savor delicious sake.



#SelfQuarantine #COVID19

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Sake Tasting

Sake Tasting

To be able to taste sake, the most importing to do is to identify and set your own tasting criteria. The criteria are not based on one’s preferences, so one must find the foundation that become the basis for judging various sake. One must have that foundation in place to be able to recognize aroma, acidity, body and umami, that different types of sake have.
So how can one establish that foundation for establishing your own tasting criteria? Here is the quickest and least expensive way of doing it, based on my own experience.
First, buy low-priced sake at a store. Try it every day for 15 days, even if you don’t like it or it’s simply horrible (some people may need 20 days). Do not drink it until it makes you drunk. It’s most important that you drink a certain amount every day, even if it’s just enough to fill an ochoko (tiny sake cup).
Stop for two to three days to rest your liver, then do a tasting of a different sake. You will probably realize that you can profile the sake to surprising details. The differences in acidity, the body, aroma, and umami, as well as aftertaste intensity – you should be able to clearly tell those differences.
Once you have that understanding, all you need to do is study on which step of the process makes those differences. Also, deepen your understanding on raw ingredients and water, and study how to express them as well as food pairings. This way, you will become a great sake sommelier.





니혼슈(일본술)의 시음

술 시음에 앞서 가장 중요한 것은 자신에 맞는 미각 기준을 발견하는 것입니다. 여기서 기준이란 자신의 기호가 아니라 다른 술을 판정하는 데 필요한 미각의 축이 되는 것을 발견하는 것입니다. 그 축이 되는 맛이 확실하면 다른 술과 차별화된 향과 산미, 보디, 풍미를 느낄 수 있게 되는 것입니다.
다음은 그 축을 찾는 방법인데, 이번에는 자신의 경험을 바탕으로 가장 빠르고, 비용도 들지 않는 미각 판단 기준의 발견 방법을 알려드리고자 합니다.
우선 매장에서 저렴한 니혼슈를 산 후, 그 술이 맛이 없더라도 15일간 매일 같은 술을 마십니다(사람에 따라서는 20일 정도 걸리기도 합니다). 그리고 절대 취할 때까지 마시지 않습니다. 양은 사기잔 한 잔을 마시든 홀짝홀짝 마시든 매일 마셔야 합니다.
2~3일간 휴식을 취한 후 다른 니혼슈를 시음해 봅니다. 아마도 지금까지 몰랐던 맛을 느낄 수 있을 것입니다. 산미의 차이, 보디의 무게감, 향의 차이, 풍미의 수준, 후미의 강약을 확실하게 알 수 있게 됩니다.
이를 이해할 수 있다면, 다음에는 그 차이가 어느 공정에서 영향을 받았는지 공부하면 됩니다. 또한, 원재료와 물에 대해서도 지식을 쌓고, 표현력과 요리의 궁합에 관해서 공부해 나간다면 훌륭한 사케 소믈리에(기키자케시)가 될 수 있습니다.

#SakeTasting #SakeSommelier

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NHK “The Mark of Beauty”

I covered in my previous column that many media outlets are recently covering Japanese sake. In this issue, I’d like to introduce the NHK program, “The Mark of Beauty” (
Actor Masao Kusakari hosts this innovative, artistic TV program to introduce various hidden joys in everyday life. This program introduced Japanese sake, and how sake is produced today.
“Koji” (rice malt) was filmed at Nambu Bijin for this program.
This program introduced the traditional Futa-koji preparation method, and explained how this method contributed to the history and traditions of the Nambu Toji in Iwate prefecture, the largest Toji guild in Japan.
Also, the sake yeast widely used today is the BSJ (Brewing Society of Japan) yeast from the Brewing Association and prefectural yeast originally cultured in each prefecture. Also, this program introduced natural “flower yeast” the Tokyo University of Agriculture succeeded in culturing from wild flowers by isolation culture.
Collecting yeast from nature suitable for producing Japanese sake is very difficult. Not only is achieving this a great success, this program also introduced sake brewers utilizing this yeast in actual sake products with great success.
I’m truly grateful for this program that introduced authentic, traditional sake production culture. For Japanese nationals not very knowledgeable about Japanese sake, and foreign nationals who know even less about Japanese sake, I hope they learn about sake production through this program.



by Kosuke Kuji
#NHK #美の壺

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Containment Mood)

Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co... Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co...
By Ryuji Takahashi

Currently, the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus is felt worldwide as many regions are self-confined to their homes. The virus is surely a serious problem not to be taken lightly, for which we cannot do much except to pray for the doctors and hope for the best as we take precautions like gargling, thorough hand-washing, etc. Many Japanese corporations instructed employees not to attend seminars or parties where ten or more people gather, which needless to say, prevents attendance at Japanese sake events and other events where an unknown number of people gather. No one can risk exposure to the Coronavirus by toasting with sake, so self-containment is the obviously correct measure to take. However, our organizers who proposed the sake events are troubled.
The venue was secured, the fliers were distributed, tickets were sold, and yet, the virus caused cancellations. It would be easier to accept if all attendees cancelled, yet only half cancelled, leaving the organizers pondering whether or not to proceed with the sake event. Our sake shop was also involved in organizing the event, yet the numerous cancellations left only several people still willing to attend. However, due to the passionate pleas to hold the event from the remaining customers still willing to attend, we changed the sake event to a dinner event with a sake brewery to welcome these guests. We invited Aichi Brewery from Aichi District, Shiga Prefecture to come and promote how the flavor of the same type of new sake can change dramatically depending on the tank used.
Sake favored by sake breweries may not always be popular among the general public. Therefore, understanding the gap between the sake producer and consumer awareness is a meaningful purpose to hold this dinner event. Cancelling the sake event would mean the loss of an opportunity to research sake completed by sake brewers (new products). Producing sake that sells require marketing research. To lose the opportunity for this research could deal a huge blow to the sake brewers as well. Currently, customers are not eating out at restaurants in Japan, rumored to close and incur significant losses during the cherry-blossom viewing season, when restaurants normally make great money. Similarly, sake shops are also hit by less business transactions with restaurants. Breweries will also feel this fiscal impact as well.
Even when the restaurant industry returns to business as usual, their business will still be impacted if sake shops and breweries are still closed. Currently, I’m sorry to say to these restaurants that we consumers have no choice but to drink sake at home. The demand among younger generations and female consumers to drink sake at home is recently declining. Under these circumstances, why not rediscover the joy of drinking sake at home? Purchasing your favorite type of sake bottle, sake, appetizers, and enjoying your sake leisurely at home while watching TV is fun. Novels containing scenes where sake is consumed can also stimulate one’s appetite to keep drinking. It will take a long time for sake breweries, sake shops, and restaurants to return to business as usual. However, please be careful with your health, pray, and enjoy your sake at home.


#SelfContainment #COVID19 #Coronavirus

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Japanese sake and chocolate

Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate
By Ayaka Ito

An event of pairing of Japanese sake and chocolate was held. The chocolate for this event was picked from the selection from Dandelion Chocolate shop, one of the very few places in the world, where craft chocolate is made from single-origin cacao beans. The chocolate bars of Dandelion Chocolate are made with only cacao beans and cane sugar, and do not contain cocoa butter or vanilla essence. Their unique flavors come from natural cacao beans produced by fermentation and roasting. For this event, 4 kinds of chocolate were ordered from their main shop in San Francisco.

Pairing details

1. Piura Blanco, Peru and Ouka, Ginjo, Yamagata Prefecture
Tasting note: Green grapes and maple
In this pairing, the acidity of green grapes and the aroma and sweetness of Ouka go well together, and make both taste so much better than when tasted individually.

2. Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania and Shuhai, Junmai, Kumamoto Prefecture
Tasting note: Mango and citrus
In this pairing, the citrus flavor in the chocolate, combined with Shuhai’s citrus fruit-like aroma that resembles orange flowers and subtle sweetness, create a good harmony.

3. Mantuano, Venezuela and Tedorigawa, Yamahai, Ishikawa Prefecture
Tasting note: Roasted almonds, chocolate fudge, and sea salt
Pairing with Tedorigawa brings out the richness of chocolate produced by the roasting of beans, and gently embraces it.

4. Maya Mountain, Belize and Kamoizumi, Junmai-Ginjo undiluted sake, Hiroshima Prefecture
Tasting note: Honey, caramel, and creamy strawberries
Since this sake is undiluted, it has natural freshness and richness at the same time, and the flavor of creamy strawberries is enhanced by being combined with this sake.

The Piura Blanco’s tasting note says green grapes and maple. When I tasted the chocolate by itself, I tasted some unique acidity, which I did not care for, however, when it was combined with Ouka of Dewazakura Brewery, a marvelous harmony was created by added gracious aroma and tender sweetness of Ouka. On the contrary, when combined with sweet and sour chocolate called Ambanj, whose flavor reminded me of refreshing citrus, and strawberry or raspberry jam, the acidity of the chocolate contradicted with Ouka’s clean after-taste, and I couldn’t say it was a good pairing. Two different tastes make a harmony and create the third taste. That is the best part of pairing. I feel excited as if I am going to explore an unknown world. I urge everyone to try pairing sake with familiar ingredients and food items around you! You might discover things unexpected!


①Piura Blanco, Peruと桜花 吟醸 山形県
②Kokoa Kamili, Tanzaniaと朱盃 純米 熊本県
③Mantuano, Venezuelaと手取川 山廃純米 石川県
④Maya Mountain, Belizeと賀茂泉 純米吟醸生原酒にごり 広島県
テイスティングノート: ハチミツとキャラメル、クリーミーな苺

Piura Blancoのテイスティングノートは青ブドウとメープルで、チョコだけで食べると独特な酸味があり、あまり好みの味ではありませんでしたが、出羽桜の桜花と合わせると桜花の持つ華やかな香りと優しい甘みが加わり、素晴らしい調和をみせてくれました。それとは逆にAmbanjaという爽やかなシトラスと苺やラズベリージャムを思い出させる甘酸っぱいマダガスカル産のチョコレートと合わせてみると、チョコレートの酸が桜花のスッキリとした後味と反発してしまい、あまり相性がいいペアリングとは言えませんでした。2つの味わいが調和し、第3の味わいが生まれる。これこそがマリアージュの醍醐味であり、道なる世界への探検のようでワクワクします。皆さんも身近な食材や食べ物を日本酒に合わせてペアリングしてみると、意外な発見があるかもしれないので、是非試してみて下さいね。

#Japanesesake #chocolate

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NHK News Program “Today’s Close-up”

NHK News Progra...
NHK News Program “Today’s Close-up”

By Kosuke Kuji

Japanese sake is a central product in “Cool Japan Strategy” implemented by the Japanese government and increasingly featured recently by many media outlets both domestically and abroad.
One such program is a very popular TV program on NHK, “Today’s Close-up” (
NHK “Close-up Today” is a news program that features social problems to the latest trends garnering much attention. This program delves deep into one theme at a time to report on the latest “today” on many themes domestically and abroad to date.
“Today’s Close-up” covered Japanese sake in November 2019.
I was interviewed in this program along with sake brewers expanding from Japan into the world market, American nationals producing sake in New York, and Japanese nationals producing sake in France, introducing the latest “today” surrounding Japanese sake from various angles.
Through meticulous interviews, many conducted overseas, this program features how Japanese sake is popularized worldwide, along with commentary on the future outlook for Japanese sake.
Studio guests included the chairman of the Japan Sommelier Association, very knowledgeable about Japanese sake; Shinya Tasaki, who started the “Sake Diploma” certification for Japanese sake with the Japan Sommelier Association; and various messages about Japanese sake.
Among these guests, the chief executive officer of “Dom Pérignon” took on the challenge to produce Japanese sake in Toyama City showed how Japanese sake is becoming more familiarized worldwide.



#JapaneseSake #CoolJapanStrategy #NHK

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Establishment of Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

Establishment of Restaurant Em... Establishment of Restaurant Em... Establishment of Restaurant Em...
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation set up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (“Fund”) was created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through this Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Grants will be awarded as soon as possible to those individuals who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). This Fund is operated by the NRAEF, whose mission is to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workers.

Your Eligibility
Funds will be available for restaurant and foodservice employees who can demonstrate that they:
・Worked on a part- or full-time basis in the restaurant industry for at least 90 days in the past year ; and
・Have had a primary source of income in the restaurant industry for the last year; and
・Have experienced a decrease in needed wages or loss of job on or after March 10, 2020 the result in a lack of resources to pay for essential expenses ; and
・Live in the United States, an overseas U.S. military base, or any U.S. territory*; and
・Are over the age of legal majority in their in their U.S. state or territory; and
・Meet other requirements demonstrating financial need as determined by the NRAEF.

Your Need For Funds
One-time grants are for short-term COVID-19 related hardships in paying any of the following expenses only:
・Home rent or mortgage ・Car payments or transportation costs ・ Utility bills
・Student loan payments  ・Child care ・Groceries  ・ Medical bills

For inquiries about the fund, please visit at

* Depending upon the terms of certain contributions to the Fund, certain amounts may only be available for distribution in limited geographic areas. Individuals related to employees or board members of the National Restaurant Association or National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation ARE NOT eligible for grants. All grants are made at the discretion of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.


全米レストラン協会教育財団(National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation(NRAEF))は、レストラン従業員救済基金を設立した。この救済基金は、新型コロナウイルスの発生を契機に財政的に影響を受けたレストラン業界の従業員を支援するために設立され、 この基金を通じて新型コロナウイルスの影響を受けたレストラン業界の従業員に対し、賃金の低下や失業などで失われた賃金の補てんの為に助成金が給付されるというもの。この基金は全米レストラン協会教育財団が運営しており、この財団の使命は、レストランやフードサービス業界で働く人達の側に立ち支援することを目的としている。


・家賃または住宅ローンの支払い  ・自動車ローンの支払いまたは交通費
・公共料金の支払い  ・学生ローンの支払い  ・育児に関わる費用
・食料品購入   ・医療費支払い

尚、基金への申し込み、問い合わせは、 まで。


#RestaurantEmployeeReliefFund #NationalRestaurantAssociationEducationalFoundation #coronavirusdisease #COVID19

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Judging Compatibility of Japanese Sake with Food

Where you can most likely predict the taste of wines from grape variety, vintage or production area, there is no standard to evaluate the taste of Japanese Sake.
There is an identification of Daiginjo, Ginjo, Junmai etc based on production method, but this is only the production method and doesn't indicate the compatibility with taste or dish. Also, if you look at the ingredients of rice or water, you can slightly distinguish the taste or aroma, but the taste will change depending on how you make it.
Regarding the compatibility with food, there is absolutely no way of seeing it from the label indication that is legally required as of today.
I would like to show you something from the label that may give you a hint even though it might be a slight amount.

Junmai: many can be enjoyed chilled or hot and goes well with a slight rich tasting dish or grilled item

Ginjo: most served chilled, has characteristic of splendid aroma and goes well with dishes that are topped with citrus items like yuzu or lemon ; for example, yakitori with lemon or ponzu with hamachi (young yellowtail) with ponzu etc.

Daiginjo: has considerable body and goes well with teriyaki or eel sauces or nikomi (hotpot with vegetables and/or meats/fishes). light body Daiginjyo goes well with dishes that use citrus items like Ginjo.

California made sakes: since it has slight acidity and body, it goes well with Mexican food.

Kimoto or Yamahai class sakes: goes extremely well with beef or pork dishes

















니혼슈(일본술)와 궁합이 좋은 요리 판단

와인은 포도의 품종, 빈티지, 산지에 따라 대략적인 맛을 예측할 수 있지만, 일본주에는 맛을 평가하는 기준이 없습니다.
다이긴죠, 긴죠, 준마이 등 제조 방식에 따라 구별이 가능하지만, 이는 어디까지나 만드는 방식일 뿐 맛과 요리와의 궁합을 나타내는 것은 아닙니다. 또한, 원료인 쌀과 물 역시 약간의 맛과 향을 판단하는 기준이 되기는 하지만, 이 역시 어떤 제조 방식을 사용하는가에 따라 맛이 달라집니다. 현재 의무화된 라벨 표시로는 음식과의 궁합을 전혀 알 수 없습니다.

준마이슈(純米酒): 5~10℃(히야, 冷)에서 30~40℃(누루칸, 燗) 정도의 온도로 마시는 경우가 많고, 다소 맛이 강한 요리나 구이와 잘 어울립니다.

긴죠슈(吟醸酒): 주로 차갑게 마시고, 화사한 향이 특징입니다. 감귤류, 유자, 레몬을 뿌리는 요리와 궁합이 좋습니다. 닭꼬치구이에 레몬, 방어회와 폰즈 소스 등과도 잘 어울립니다.

다이긴죠슈(大吟醸酒): 바디감이 묵직한 다이긴죠슈는 데리야키나 장어 소스, 조림 등과 궁합이 좋습니다. 바디감이 가벼운 다이긴죠슈는 긴죠슈와 마찬가지로 감귤류 요리와 잘 어울립니다.

캘리포니아산: 약간의 산미와 바디감이 있어 멕시코 요리와도 잘 어울립니다.

기모토(生酛)와 야마하이(山廃) 계열: 소고기나 돼지고기 요리와 찰떡궁합입니다.

#Compatibility #JapaneseSake #Food

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“Awasake Revitalization Group Launched”

A significant promotional group for Awasake was launched. On January 28, Japan Awasake Association was a historic day where approximately 30 members from the Liberal Democratic Party Parliament members gathered to launch the “Awasake Revitalization Group.” House of Representative member Toshiaki Endo from Yamagata Prefecture assumed the position of Chairman, while Yuko Obuchi of Gunma prefecture assumed the position of Secretary. Japan Awasake Association is striving to serve Awasake as the toast during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Therefore, this foundation party was attended by Yoshio Mori of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee Yoshiro Mori, who presented a congratulatory message, which made this dream closer to reality. Also, the committee chairman Yoshiro Mori also became an honorary chairman of the parliament as well.
Also, the launch party was attended by members from the National Tax Agency, public offices, and representatives from the sake industry, expressing support for Awasake.
Still a new Japanese sake genre among both public and private organizations, high anticipation for this sake to become widespread was felt among attending members.
Japan Awasake Association chairman Noriyoshi Nagai greeted guests and expressed his resolve to enhance the quality of Awasake to increase export to levels comparable to champagne and wine to promote widespread consumption throughout Japan and win worldwide brand recognition.
Thanks to support from many attendees, Japan Awasake Association will continue to strive to become the chosen beverage for toasts worldwide. Thank you in advance for your support !


awa酒に最高の応援団が発足しました。2020年1月28日、awa酒協会にとって歴史的な日になりました。自民党の国会議員の皆さんが約30名集まり、「awa酒振興議連」を発足していただきました。衆議院議員の山形県の遠藤利明先生が会長に就任され、幹事長には群馬県の小渕優子先生という布陣です。awa酒協会は東京オリンピック・パラリンピックで乾杯酒を目指していますが、今回の設立総会には元総理でもある森 喜朗東京オリンピック・パラリンピック組織委員会会長も臨席していただき、応援メッセージをいただき、awa酒で東京オリンピック・パラリンピックの乾杯酒に現実味がかなり出てきました。さらにこの議連の名誉会長にも就任していただきました。

#Awasake #JapanAwasakeAssociation #AwasakeRevitalizationGroup #TokyoOlympicandParalympicGames

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