According to Bloomberg on September 12, Takeshi Niinami, president of Suntory Holdings (HD) and president of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, plans to expand business in the country, especially in whiskey, despite growing tensions with China over the U.S.-China conflict and the release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. He also called on the business community in Japan and China to maintain dialogue.
In an interview in English with Bloomberg in Tokyo, Sina said he will boost sales by emphasizing his high technology and brand power, including by introducing whisky to the market first. He said that Chinese consumers’ tastes are shifting away from consumption of traditional Chinese liquors (such as baijiu).
Although the Chinese market accounts for less than 3% of Suntory HD’s total sales, Japanese whiskey has become increasingly popular in China in recent years. The company’s highest-aged single malt whisky, Yamazaki 55 Year Old, sold for more than 80 million yen per bottle at a Hong Kong auction in 2020.
Regarding Japan-China relations, China has suspended all imports of Japanese marine products following the release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. There is also a movement on the Internet calling for a boycott of Japanese cosmetics, and there is widespread alarm over Japanese products, not limited to marine products.
Mr. Sina said that not only marine products are being tested, but also stressed the need to show constant interest in the huge market of China and to maintain mutual relations through dialogue in the business world, even in the face of rising political tensions.