Asahi Breweries ha sheld on to the top spot in the Japanese domestic beer market in the first half of this year, with a 39.2% market share compared to the 35.6% of nearest rival Kirin Brewery.

Asahi reached the top spot in 2001 for the first time in 48 years through shipments of beer and happoshu, led in particular by its first happoshu brand Honnama.

Sapporo Breweries took the third spot with 14.1% of the market and with 10.4% Suntory was in fourth place.

According to shipment data released today the combined volumes of the country's top five brewers fell for the first time in two years, dropping 4.6% in January-June from the same period last year to 259.57 million cases.