According to the Ministry of Finance ("MOF") web site on Nov. 06, 2009, MOF drafted the plan to extend temporary customs zero duty rate of Tobacco and Alcohol products in next fiscal year.
Cigarettes (2402.20) and many of Alcohols (2208) products such as whisky, brandy, vodka, and liquors have general tariff with ad-valorem or non-ad valorem duties, but currently the MNF tariff rate is Free. For example, for cigarettes (2402.20), the general tariff is 8.5% plus 290.7 yen / 1,000 pcs., and the WTO bound rate is also same rate. However, the temporary duty rate is zero percent and the duty free rate is applied as MFN based on Act on Temporary Measures concerning Customs.
This Act is basically "temporary", therefore re-newed every year. Current one is from April 01, 2009 to March 31, 2010. It may be sound strange, however, this temporary rate for tobacco has been extended every year till now from 1987 due to Japan-US Tobacco Agreement.
For temporary tariff for Alcohol is also extended annually same manner from 1998 due to WTO recommendation.
Normal procedure would be that MOF will submit amendment of the Act in February next year, and then the Diet will approve it by end of March. The new tariff (if approved, the rate as Free) will be applied from April 01, 2010.
In September this year, Japanese government political power changed from LDP (Liberal Democratic Party of Japan) to DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) and currently actively discussed the increase of tobacco tax for compensating budget deficit, such points may make the "annual established custom"somewhat cloudy. But this temporary zero percent tariff for tobacco and Alcohol is decided not by domestic reason but by foreign external pressure, I bet free "temporary" tariff rate will be applied next year again as usual.
(Source: http://www.mof.go.jp/jouhou/kanzei/h22kaisei/zaimu/h22zaimu.htm )