Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed during his speech. His passing is a terribly unfortunate event. Speaking of Mr. Abe and DASSAI, so many memories come to my mind. He led the change against the policy of sake rice reduction, which ignores the actual situation within the framework of staple rice promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In the initial stages of his visits to other countries, Mr. Abe would present Dassai to each country’s leader. I first found out about this from the news, and did not disclose this information until I knew where the sake was bought later.

Mr. Abe always bought Dassai from the shops and departmental stores in the city. I was privileged to meet him in person on several occasions, and at that time he said with a laugh, “The secretariat gets mad if I recommend Dassai too much.” In fact, Mr. Abe’s election district and our sake brewery were different election districts, even within Yamaguchi prefecture.

Here is another one. We received a secret purchase from the US government to use Dassai as a toasting sake at the White House’s official dinner party to please Mr. Abe. I was unaware of this until halfway into the process, and when I heard the staff talking about “… sake to Obama…” in the office, I thought they were talking about some sake dealer in Obama city, Fukui Prefecture.

Besides, I was also victim to defamation. Three years ago, we sustained severe damage from the West Japan Torrential Rains. Coincidentally, there was an informal dinner between Mr. Abe and Mr. Kishida (present Prime Minister of Japan) just a day before, to which they brought Dassai and Kamotsuru. This was interpreted maliciously and I received slanderous comments such as, “It is because they were doing this so Dassai’s sake brewery was damaged in the flood.”

After much thought, I deducted that this is the reason Mr. Abe especially make use of Dassai: There was not a single sake from Yamaguchi to be found in Tokyo when Mr. Abe formed his first cabinet. I guess Dassai which was blindly trying to advance into Tokyo at that time caught his eye.

During the time Mr. Abe was lying low after being forced to leave the cabinet, I recall receiving a call from the late Mr. Masahiko Katsuya (renowned columnist and photographer). “Yesterday, I was invited to drink with Mr. Abe. What do you think he brought? It was your sake!” he said with excitement.

I am truly shocked at the passing of Mr. Abe. May his soul rest in peace.