Asahi Shuzo, the brewer that produces Dassai, one of Japan’s most popular sake brands, does things a little differently. For example, they’re the company that took out full-page newspaper ads to formally request that customers not pay high prices for their products.
That doesn’t mean that Asahi Shuzo itself is tightfisted, though. On Feb 17, the company announced a change to its hiring practices, under which it will be increasing the starting pay for new employees by more than 40 percent, translating to an increase of 90,000 yen a month.
Like many Japanese companies, Asahi Shuzo offers a standard contract to new hires who have just graduated from college. Previously, the monthly salary for this contract was 210,000 yen, but starting with the company’s 2022 fiscal year (which begins in the spring), the monthly salary is being bumped up to 300,000 yen.
A starting pay of around 200,000 is fairly common for new college graduates in Japan, where salaries are routinely supplemented by commuting allowances and many companies also provide housing allowances and twice-a-year bonuses. With Asahi Shuzo located in the relatively rural town of Iwakuni, an extra 90,000 yen a month should be more than adequate for a rather nice single’s apartment.
What’s more, this is just the first of multiple increases to worker compensation to come, as Asahi Shuzo’s plan is to double worker salaries within the next five years. “We take pride in the members of our production team, who play a central role in the quality of Dassai,” says Asahi Shuzo, “and we want to create an environment where we can continue to pursue ways to create delicious sake.”
In addition to taking care of its workers, Asahi Shuzo has been expanding its scope with partnerships like the Mos Burger Dassai milkshake and Dassai matcha truffles. The brand is also seeing increasing popularity outside Japan, with last September being the first time for Asahi Shuzo’s overseas sales to surpass domestic demand, and the company is looking to create a new brewery to focus on high-end sake as well.
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