Japan Avoids Trade War - Over 4,200 Cars
Today’s Nikkei [sub] clarified the Japanese position on US cars qualifying for Nipponese cash fur clunkers money. The program offers up to 250,000 yen ($2,800) in subsidies to buyers of cars that meet Japanese fuel efficiency standards.
According to the Nikkei, about 30 percent of U.S. imports to Japan enter the country through the “Preferential Handling Procedure,” that does not require them to pass Japanese fuel efficiency tests. These cars, which had been excluded from the program, will now be considered – based on mileage data collected in the U.S. Good luck with that.
In 2008, 14,000 U.S. cars were imported to Japan. 30 percent via the gracious “Preferential Handling Procedure.” That’s 4,200 cars. Does that warrant the hue and cry of Detroit? Detroit omitted that 70 percent of their imports to Japan did qualify (if they met the 35.5 mpg standard, that is) before Hillary Clinton and Betty Sutton nearly triggered another trade war about nothing. No skin off Japan’s government to open the C4C coffers to the 4200 “Preferential Handling Procedure” cars, based on their EPA numbers. No Escalades (favored by Yakuza who can’t afford a Benz) will be supported by government money, one way or the other.
I agree. The meager results don't justify the effort. Instead, the U.S. automakers should be focusing their lobbying efforts on ensuring that new Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan does not succeed in devaluing the yen against the dollar to prop up exporters.
There was never a risk of a trade war. This issue was chosen for political exploitation by Hillary Clinton (et. al.) precisely because it was insubstantial. Privately, she was probably reassuring Japanese diplomats that this token gesture would forestall calls for increased tariffs.