On Monday, Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda presented a new and improved cabinet, tailcoats and all. Apparently, that cabinet has few friends in Japan’s auto industry.
Akio Toyoda, who took over the rotating chairmanship of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association last May, sent a surprisingly strongly worded address to his new leaders. Speaking on behalf of all JAMA members, Toyoda said:
“The automobile industry faces unprecedented sustained yen appreciation, a high corporate tax rate, a slowdown in trade liberalization, strict domestic labor regulations, stringent goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and a restricted electric power supply. The combined result is an extremely severe business environment for our sector.”
“Anxiety has also arisen over the territorial dispute with China, the impact of which is being felt by the Japanese automobile industry and the national economy even as it threatens livelihoods, impedes cultural exchanges and fuels other disturbing trends.”
Indeed, the hamfisted handling of the dispute over a few rocks in the East China Sea probably already triggered a third disaster for Japan’s auto industry, this time in China, as if the tsunami at home and the floods in Thailand weren’t bad enough.