(LinkAsia: October 19, 2012)
Japan and China have a big economic stake in each other. Their trading relationship is worth over $300 billion every year. But now, anti-Japan sentiment in China has driven down the sales of Japanese cars to the point that some Japanese brand names are disappearing from Chinese roads. For more on this story, here's Japanese broadcaster NHK.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: October 16, 2012
Nissan Motors unveiled a new passenger car last month, developed especially for the Chinese market. Nissan is a top seller of Japanese cars in China. The price of the 1600 c.c. Runabout starts from about $11,000 - almost the same as Chinese models. Nissan kept costs down by using more locally-made parts. Nissan executives hoped the new car launch would jump-start sales in the country. But the timing couldn't have been worse. Anti-Japanese sentiment is running high. Company managers say the impact on sales has been larger than expected.
This is the kind of crisis we really that we really don't like because it is completely outside the reach of the companies. You know, political situation is very emotional between the two countries, and you're caught in the middle.
Japanese automakers have been forced to keep a lower profile since the Senkaku issue erupted. That means less, sometimes no product promotion. This motor show held in Tianjin last month is a key event on the industry calendar. But Honda, Mitsubishi and Fuji all pulled out at the last moment. The situation is made worse by a spreading consumer boycott targeting Japanese products.
Because of the Senkaku issue, I'm going to buy a German car.
Given the political problems I don't think it's a good idea to buy a Japanese car now.
One dealer of European cars is offering what they call "a patriotic service." It's a discount offer. Customers who replace their Japanese vehicles get more than $700 off the sticker price.
We offer the patriotic service to peoplereplacing Japanese cars, no matter what brand they are.
Declining sales are now affecting output. Toyota and Nissan scaled back local production from September through October. Some plants cut operating days or shortened operating hours. More assembly lines could follow suit. Managers of Japanese automakers say they hope the sale slump is just a 'bump in the road' for their Chinese operations. But that could all depend on an improvement in Japan-China relations and there's no sign of that happening anytime soon. Akirhiro Mikoda, NHK World, Tianjin.
Due to poor sales, Toyota is closing its Tianjin production plant for five days next week. Toyota's sales in China fell by almost 50 percent in September.