Sapporo Breweries has said that sales its of so-called "third category" beer would fall by 30% if the government goes ahead with plans to raise the tax rate on the product.

The Japanese beer producer said it "resolutely opposes" the tax hike which it said would be a substantial blow to the company.

In raising the tax rate on third category beer, the government would be following the same course of action it adopted with happoshu low-malt beer. The government increased taxation on happoshu in 2003 after brewers had exploited its low tax rate, creating a boom in sales. Following the tax increase, growth in happoshu was checked.