The Japan Sommelier Association began its life in January 1969 as the “Beverage Sales Promotion Study Group (BMRG).” 2019 marked the organization’s 50th anniversary with a party held on 30 March at the Tokyo International Forum. Many familiar faces were on hand to contribute to the tastings and congratulate the association on its achievements. These included Shinya Tasaki, named ASI Best Sommelier of World in 1995, Saiko Tamura-Soga (ASI Vice-President for Asia & Oceania) and rising star Wataru Iwata, ASI Best Sommelier of Asia & Oceania 2018.
The Japan Sommelier Association administers examinations for those hoping to become certified sommeliers. The pass rate in 2018 was 26.5 percent. There are currently 30,000 certified sommeliers in Japan, of whom 13,000 are women.